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S. G. & E. L. ELBERT 




Ella Smith Elbert ' 88 





Engraved from a Painting by Darius Cobb in 1890, in State House at Concord, N. H. 

Purchasers are requested to read the publishers' guarantee 
contained on pages 7, 8, 9, and 10. The removal or tam- 
pering with these pages is violation of copyright law. Pur- 
chasers noticing this will kindly refuse acceptance and at 
once notify the publishers. 









This book is published as a subscription book, and to be sold only as such. Each copy is regis- 
tered. Any person, or persons, buying or selling the same for purpose of re-sale 
or other than through subscription will be prosecuted. 






Notice. — Purchasers are requested to read the publishers' guaran- 
tee contained on pages 7, 8, 9, and 10. The removal or tampering with 
these pages is violation of copyright law. Purchasers noticing this will 
kindly refuse acceptance and at once notify the publishers. 





Col. Thos. E. Major. 
Samuel. Jaros. 


Col. John B. Batchelder. 
Chas. E. Fay (Photographer;. 
E. A. Schoelch, 
Frank Hendry, and others. 

Translations by 

Prof. Eugene Raymond (French). 

Ancien professeur a l'Ecole Superieure de Boston. 
J. G-. Haacke (German). 

Typography and Presswork by 
"The Barta Press." 


Kilburn & Cross. 
Aldine Engraving Co. 
Boston Engraving Co. 

Paper by 

The Rice-Kendall Co. 

All of Boston, Mass. 


General Butler has said in his introduction that every point is to 
be proven. This has necessitated a large staff of workers to carefully 
search the records of the War Department, and the consequent proof 
corrections have occasioned a long delay in the publication of the work, 
and required the reprinting of many folios. The work has in consequence 
been increased in number of pages and illustrations not originally announced 
or contemplated, making, we trust, valuable and interesting additions. 

The historical documents have been placed in an appendix with refer- 
ences at the bottom of each page, thus elucidating and proving all state- 
ments, and adding accordingly to the value of the work as an authentic 
autobiographical history. The object of placing these documents in an 
appendix was to retain the logical sequence of historical events and not to 
break the thread of the story. Among the vast amount of data it is very 
possible that some errata may appear in the first edition, but mistakes will 
be duly rectified in the subsequent editions. 

An impression prevails that by waiting a short time after the publica- 
tion of a popular book sold by subscription, it may be bought at reduced 
prices at bookstores, dry-goods stores, news stands or as premiums for 
periodicals. This impression owes its inception to the practice of some 
publishers, who, for reasons — probably of a financial nature — have found 
it to their advantage to reduce the price of subscription books, after the first 
popular sale is over, and place them in bookstores, expose them in public 
libraries, and even permit them to be advertised and given as cheap 
premiums for periodicals, newspapers, etc. Besides this, of late years 
there has been a constant effort by bookstores and dry-goods stores to sell 
standard subscription books below cost as an advertisement. 

It is not surprising that the public sometimes looks with distrust upon 
the promises of subscription book publishers, or their agents, who, having 
pledged themselves that the original price shall be maintained, have in 
many cases deliberately broken faith. 



In consequence we feel it incumbent upon us to offer the public something 
of more value than promises, which are the poorest possible collateral. 

The following guarantee will, we trust, convince subscribers of our 
sincerity, and we feel confident that the plans we shall adopt will enable 
us to enforce it. 


Butler's Book is published as a subscription book and to be sold by us 
only as such through our agents, and at prices appearing in our prospectus 
or on our circulars. 

Should we at any time offer or advertise this work for sale in book- 
stores, dry-goods stores, etc., at reduced price, or sell it to be sold, or given 
aicay as premiums for magazines, newspapers, etc., vie agree to refund to 
each subscriber the difference between the regular retail pr 'ice and such 
reduced price. 


Boston, Mass., Feb. 1, 1892. 

This guarantee, which appears in every copy, is, we believe, the first 
guarantee of a tangible, monetary value ever given to subscribers of 
subscription books, that the promises made by publishers or their agents 
are to be carried out. 

To protect our subscribers and agents, we consulted the most eminent legal 
talent, and in answer received the following letter from General Butler, 
which will doubtless be received with more than ordinary interest, containing 
as it does the opinion of a lawyer second to none in the world : — 

Boston, Oct. 5, 1891. 
A. M. Thayer & Co., 6 ML Vernon St., Boston, Mass. 

Gentlemen : — I have taken note of the performances now going on by 
publishers of important books, who, after they have made solemn engage- 
ments that their books shall be sold only by subscription, and put enormous 
prices on them upon that pledge, by which assurance the reading public 
have made purchases to the amount of some millions of dollars, have 
turned around, and, advertising that the exact copyright work will be given 
to anybody who will subscribe for a magazine or newspaper, as a cJiromo 
as it might be termed, has heretofore been used. Now, I don't want my 
book used as a chromo, and I know you would not do it, and you have 
sent a guaranty to me that it shall not be done, and that, as far as I am 
concerned, is quite sufficient. 1 think you may well do so, because it is 
my belief as a lawyer that these publishers are liable to their subscribers 
for the difference between the chromo price and the subscription price of 
these works, and if J had not gone out of the law business, I should like 
to undertake the present job of collecting it in behalf of these subscribers 
to these several works. 


Therefore, I will stand by you and aid you in every way to prevent 
any such occurrence as is now going on, to the utter destruction, I should 
suppose, of the business of selling valuable books by subscription, a method 
which is of great value to the public. 

Truly yours, 

{Signed) BEJSTJ. F. BUTLER. 

All agents for Butler's Book enter into an agreement : — 

" Not to sell or deliver directly or indirectly, a copy of this work to 
anyone who does not actually subscribe for it for his own private use, and 
not for resale, and not knowingly to supply a copy, directly or indirectly, 
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to the same being done in any manner, and not to sell or to supply copies to 
anyone beyond the limits of his own territory and that the ownership of 
the book remains in the hands of the publishers until actually delivered and 
paid for by the subscribers for whom it was intended and ordered." 

By virtue of this agreement this book remains our property until delivered 
to the bona-fide subscriber, who has purchased it under a contract " for 
jKersonal use and not for resale," as contained in our prospectus. Ownership 
in it reverts to us if used by subscriber for any other purpose ; besides he 
becomes legally liable for any damages done us or our business by transfer. 

If, therefore, any copy is sold or delivered by the agent to dealers or 
other persons for resale or exposure in public libraries or for purposes 
other than private use, he transfers property that does not belong to him, 
for which offence both agent, subscriber, bookseller, or receiver are liable. 

In case any book is found in a bookstore, dry-goods store, 4SSXi^5A££ 
public library or other place it will be easy to determine by 
reference to our records into whose hands the book was given 
and we will at once call the guilty parties to account. Each 
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being the owner of the books consigned to him, cannot lawfully do any- 
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property that belongs to us and not to him. 

We are able by means of the precautions here described to protect the 
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finding a copy of this book in any store or public library to immediately 
inform us, giving registered number of the book and address of place where 
found. Any expense incurred in this matter will be cheerfully refunded. 

Unscrupulous persons may remove these pages so as to make plausible 
the excuse that the above-mentioned facts were not duly brought to the 
notice of every party. This guarantee and notice being permanently 
attached to each book makes it a legal notice. Should any party remove the 
same from the book he will be liable for prosecution for the above-mentioned 
offence and also for the mutilation of a copyrighted work. In order to 
prevent this and to enable every purchaser to know that the book has 
been tampered with, we have placed a notice on a number of pages at the 
beginning of the work. 

Trusting that all will co-operate with us to the utmost in securing the 
fullest possible protection, we are 

Very truly yours, 

A. M. THAYER & CO., Publishers, 

Boston, Mass. 


To the Good and Brave Soldiers oe the Grand Army oe 


This book is dedicated by their comrade, a slight token of appre- 
ciation of the patriotic devotion to loyalty and gallant heroism with 
which they endured the hardships and fought the battles of their 
country during the War of the Rebellion, to preserve its existence and 
perpetuity as a nation of freemen, the proudest exemplar of a people 
solely governed by themselves, able to sustain that government as more 
powerful than any nation of the earth. 

Upon our efforts and their success depended the future of free 
institutions as a governmental power, giving the boon of liberty to 
all the peoples. 

Other republics have flourished for a season, been split in frag- 
ments, or merged in despotisms, and failure would have closed for- 
ever the experiment of a government by the people for the people. 

i r 



The Preface of a book is usually written after the book is finished, 
and is as usually left unread. It is not as a rule, therefore, either a 
convenience or a necessity. I venture, however, to use it at the out- 
set as a vehicle for conveying the purposes of writing this book at all. 

Having lived through and taken part in a war, the greatest of the 
many centuries, and carried on by armies rivalling in numbers the 
fabled hosts of Xerxes, and having been personally conversant with 
almost all, if not all, the distinguished personages having charge and 
direction of the battles fought, and with the political management 
which has established the American Republic in power, prosperity, 
glory, and stability unequalled by that of any nation of the earth, I have 
been very frequently called upon by those who are, in their relations to 
me, personal friends, and to whom I am endeared by life-long kind- 
nesses, to give what knowledge I have of the course of conduct in the 
action of national politics and the causes which led up to so great 

I have also had my attention called to consider whether it might 
not be well for me to give a somewhat connected narrative of matters 
of which I had personal cognizance, and of some of the more impor- 
tant of which I had personal conduct. 

I have been asked to give memories and reminiscences of those 
matters which concern in part my private life which would interest 
them, and to set forth many facts and occurrences which would throw 
light upon the history of the country, especially during the moment- 
ous period 1860-1880. The real influences by which many were 
governed have not, in several instances, been exhibited to the country, 

Purchasers are requested to read the publishers' guarantee contained on pages 7, 8, 9, and 10. The 
removal or tampering with these pages is violation of copyright law. Purchasers noticing this will kindly 
refuse acceptance and at once notify the publishers. 



and the true bearing of these influences and these motives on the great 
struggle have not been made apparent. Finally I desire to correct 
much of wrong done to myself by a prejudiced misrepresentation 
of facts and circumstances as to my own acts in the service of the 
country, especially in connection with the conduct of its armies. 
Therefore, I have thought it but just to myself and posterity that the 
true facts as I know them should be brought out. 

All these considerations have compelled me to undertake at this 
late day of my life the labor of preparing the material necessary to 
be expended in writing this book, and of putting it in proper form. 

Perhaps it would be well in addition to show how the book is 
written : Wherever facts are set out I have intended that it should 
be done with literal and exact accuracy, so far as they depend upon 
my knowledge, and in many cases they are exact memoranda of 
events ; but where any fact is detailed upon the testimony of others, 
I have endeavored to verify it by consulting and making known the 
citations of the authorities either in the text or in the notes. 

I have thought it the better way, however, to make careful exami- 
nation of the accounts stated in other publications, and to draw 
from them in my own manner, any point which may be subject 
to contradiction in regard to the accuracy of the fact stated. 
And where I know a fact exists I say so, and where I believe it to 
exist from information and belief, I have given the source from which 
I derived that belief, if I doubt as to its truth or challenge its cor- 

Wherever opinions are expressed upon men, their character 
and conduct, and the motives which influenced them, they are my 
own opinions and I hope not capable of denial as such. Whether 
those opinions are correct, well founded or proper in any respect, is 
open to the fullest criticism. 

As to my personal acts, and doings, and omissions to do, " I have 
in naught extenuated," but I have reserved to myself the privilege of 
explaining and exhibiting my motives and feelings. In regard to 
others I have "set down naught in malice," reserving to myself, 
however, tfie privilege of saying in regard to any man personally 
what I think it is right to say of him, however harsh the criticism 
may be, and of giving a true definition of character in whatever 
distinct terms that criticism calls for. 


In speaking of events, I have, as far as possible, put them in juxta- 
position, and with such bearings upon each other that they shall - 
consist, in so far as they may, of items of history, which may 
aid others to reach the truth, when the time has come in the far 
future for the truth of history to be exactly written. 

I admit frankly that this book should have been written before, so 
as to reap the advantage of being able to apply to my compatriots 
in their lifetime, and to verify the facts, as far as necessary, herein 
described. But being still in active business in the ardent pursuit of 
my profession, which has always been the pleasantest occupation of my 
life, I could not find the time in which it could well be done. But 
the delay has one advantage : I have outlived most of my compatriots 
having to do with the events treated of, and my mind is free from 
almost every possible prejudice, and in a position where the temptation 
is strong to obey the maxim, de mortuis nil nisi bonum, so that I 
trust nothing will be said save where it is necessary to the cause of 
truth. For truth may be told, without interfering with that maxim, 
just as well as the facts concerning the life of Julius Caesar may be 

Finally, I am conscious of but one regret for this delay, and that is 
that in the course of nature it is not probable I shall live so long as to 
be able to hear all the criticisms, as I am certain many will be made, 
upon this book, so that I can reply to them, attempting to correct 
everything that is wrong or mistaken in such criticisms, in justice to 
those that may be affected by such mistakes, as well as to answer any 
misstatements hereafter made against the matter of the book, or any 
attempted contradiction of any fact stated therein, or any new off- 
shoot of calumny against the author. 

I hope that my days may be prolonged for such a purpose. 




All Men are not Created Equal — Conditions that Tend to Produce 
Superiority — Early Settlers of New Hampshire — The Butler 
Family — " Brick " Pomeroy Considered — Childhood and first 
School-Days — Early Development of a Tenacious Memory — 
Learned Political Principles from Grandmother — In Phillips 
(Exeter) Academy — Rev. Mr. Edson, Founder of Lowell's 
Schools — Clergyman Objects to West Point — Intended for the 
Ministry — Life at Waterville College — Theological Conflict with 
Authorities there — Determines upon the Law as a Profession — 
Graduates, Weighing Ninety- Seven Pounds — Voyage in a Fishing- 
Vessel — Study of Law — Method Pursued — Experience as Teacher 
in Private School — Examination for Admission to the Bar ... 33 


Courtship and Marriage — Weds Miss Sarah Hildreth, of Dracut — 
Their four Children — Why the Youngest was sent to West 
Point — A War every Generation — The Butler " Coat of Arms " — 
Mrs. Butler during the Rebellion — Political Course : Governing 
Principle and Belief — Early Campaign for Shorter Hours in 
Lowell Mills — Hostility of Manufacturers — Rise of the Democratic 
Free-Soil Coalition — State Election of 1851 — "Whoever votes 
the Ben. Butler Ten-Hour ticket will be Discharged" — Lowell 
in a Ferment — Famous public Address — "You have your Right 
Arms and Your Torches " — Vilifications of the Press — Elected 



to the Legislature in 1852 — Attempting to Right a Wrong — 
Story of the Burning of the Convent of St. Ursula, in Charlestown — 
Objection to "Australian " Secret Ballot — How Sumner was 
chosen Senator — Constitutional Convention of 1853, and Rise of 
the Know-Nothing Party — Anti-Catholic Legislation — Military 
Training — From Private to Brigadier- General of State Militia . . 78 


Slavery as an Institution - — Colonizationists and Abolitionists — Rise 
of the Free-Soil Party — Settlement of Kansas — The John Brown 
Raid — Democratic National Convention at Charleston in 1860 — 
Struggle for a Platform — South Carolina Delegates leave the 
Convention — Secession Foreseen : An Incident — Voting* for 
Jefferson Davis — Reply to Criticism — Horace Greeley as a 
Secessionist — The Baltimore Convention — Squatter Sovereignty — 
Delegates withdraw and nominate Breckenridge — Douglas 
named by the Southerners — Political Status of the Slavery 
Question — Return to Lowell — Yells and Cat-Calls — The National 
Election — Meeting of the Breckenridge Committee — Interchange 
of Opinion with a Southern Colleague — Proposing to President 
Buchanan a plan for meeting Secession — Interview with Jefferson 
Davis — The Eve of the New Administration 128 


Gov. Andrew sees need of Military Preparation — Legislature 
appropriates $100,000 for an Emergency Fund — Overcoats for 
the Militia — Military correspondence Suppressed — Facts Re- 
garding appointment as Brigadier-General — The Start for Wash- 
ington — Found advisable to go around Baltimore — A Useful 
Pamphlet and George Washington's Opinion of It — Preparing to 
capture the ferry-boat Maryland — A Soldier who was anxious 
to Fight and another who Wasn't — Arrival at Annapolis and the 
Naval Academy — " Oh, won't You save the Constitution ? " — 
Militiamen ^should know how to cook — Arrival of the New York 
Seventh — The Colonel's West Point dry Nurse — Private Homans 
and the Locomotive — Some Remarks on the New York Seventh — 
Episode of Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes, Also of West Point . .161 





Condition of affairs in Washington at the beginning of the war — 

Scott's farcical parade of strength — Davis might easily have 

' captured the city — Taking a position at the Relay House — 

Finds it desirable to enter Baltimore — Capture of Ross Winans 

— Marching up Federal Hill in a Storm — A Scare and its Ex- 
planation — Indignant Communication from General Scott — Why 
he was mad — Promoted to be Major-General and ordered to 
Fortress Monroe — Gives " Fuss and Feathers " a piece of his 
mind — Interview with President Lincoln — Condition of Fortress 
Monroe — Plenty of Oysters, but no Water — Building a Railway 

in the Sand — • Fortifying Newport News 217 



Captured Negroes declared to be " Contraband of War " — Story of 
the Origin of the Phrase — Possibly not good Law, but a Handy 
Expedient — Sensation Created — Some remarks concerning Mr. 
John Hay as a Historian - — Difficulty in obtaining horses — Decides 
to dislodge Confederate Forces at Bethel — Order for detail of 
the Movement — Gross mismanagement of Plans — Union Troops 
fire upon each other — In Front of the Breastworks — Orders 
disobeyed and attack given up — Enemy's condition investigated 

— Battle of Bull Run — General Wool sent to Fortress Monroe — 
Attack on the Forts at Hatteras — Their Surrender — Midnight 
Ride to Washington — Telling welcome news to the President — 
A Waltz en Dishabille — Goes home to Lowell — The Battle of 
Bull Run critically considered 256 


Finds Recruiting at a standstill in New England — Reason : only 
Republicans made Officers — Interview with the President on the 
subject — Obtains authorization to raise troops — How Democratic- 
Colonels were obtained — A Connecticut regiment, Colonel Dem- 



ing — A Vermont regiment, Colonel Thomas — A New Hampshire 
regiment, Colonel George, almost — Ex-President Pierce Plows 
with the Heifer — Lincoln's Bon Mot — A Maine regiment, Colonel 
Shepley — A Massachusetts regiment, Colonel Jones — Establishes 
Camp Chase at Lowell — Governor Andrew flatly refuses to 
appoint Jonas French Colonel or Caleb Cushing Brigadier — 
Trouble — Eastern and Western Bay State regiment recruited — 
" Connecticut over the Fince " — How riotous soldiery were dis- 
ciplined — Seizure of Mason and Slidell — We should have 
fought England, and could have beaten Her — Interview with 
Lincoln — Believes in moving on the Enemy in Virginia — The 
President drops a hint — McClellan gets a " Yankee Elephant " 
out of the Way 294 


Sailing to the South — Ashore on the Shoals of Hatteras — A Narrow 
Escape — A Maine Chaplain's Cowardice — Yankee Ingenuity stops 
a leak — Arrival at Ship Island — Making ready for the Attack 
on New Orleans — Hampered but not delayed — Below Forts 
Jackson and St. Philip — Porter's Mortar-Boat Fiasco — Cutting 
the Chain Cable — How Farragut passed the Forts — Army goes 
down the River and up the Coast and moves against the Forts 
from the Rear — Circumstances of their Surrender to Porter — 
Testimony of the Confederates — Some remarks concerning 
Porter 337 



Entering New Orleans — The City untamed — Meeting the City 
authorities at the St. Charles Hotel — Howling mob surrounds the 
building — " Tell General Williams to clear the streets with Ar- 
tillery " — Proclamation to the Citizens — Buying sugar to ballast 
vessels — Property burned at instigation of Confederate leaders 
— Alone responsible for conduct at New Orleans — Utterly desti- 
tute condition of people — Providing Provisions and Employment 
— Approach of Yellow Fever Season — Alarm of Troops- — Dis- 



ease investigated, with Theory as to Cause — How the City was 
cleaned and Kept clean — Just two cases of Fever that Sum- 
mer — Further consideration of Yellow Fever subject — How It 
was fought at Norfolk and New Berne two years later — One 
thing West Point needs 373 


Conduct of Women of New Orleans toward Northern Soldiers 
described — Some Examples — Butler's personal Experience — 
Spitting in Officers' Faces — "I'll put a Stop to This" — General 
Order No. 28 comes out — It does put a Stop to it — How it 
affected the Wife-Whippers of England — " Honi Soit Qui Mai 
y Pense" — Reward offered for Butler's Head — The Other Side: 
The Noble Women of New Orleans — Trouble with " Neutrals " 
and Whipper- Snapper Consuls — Assessing wealthy Confederates 
to support the Poor — Mumford tears- down the Stars and Stripes 
— Is Arrested and Sentenced to Death. — Butler threatened with 
Assassination — The Wife's appeal — Mumford hanged — Eight 
Years later — Depredation harshly punished — Butler's wonder- 
ful Spy system — A Spy in every Family — Negro servants 
tell all — Some amusing Instances — "I want that Confeder- 
ate flag, Madam, for a Fourth of July Celebration in Lowell" . .414 



What was Ordered — Mobile of no Consequence — Baton Rouge 
seized — Farragut and Williams advance upon Vicksburg — 
Halleck asked for aid — He refuses — Some Strictures on his 
conduct — Digging the Canal at Vicksburg — Fall in the River — 
French Vessel before New Orleans — An International Episode: 
France to recognize the Confederacy, liberate New Orleans, be 
given Texas and capture Mexico — Butler meets the Emergency 
— The Forts strengthened — Justification found for firing on a 
French Flat — The Loyal and Disloyal Citizens put on Record — 
All Arms ordered Given Up — Porter's Bombardment of Vicks- 
burg — Battle of Baton Rouge — Admiral Porter's Brother — " Ly- 



ing is a Family Vice " — General Phelps' resignation — General 
Strong at Pontchatoula — Louis Napoleon again — Admiral Re y- 
naud at New Orleans — Negro Regiments organized — Weitael's 
Expedition — His objection to Negro Soldiers answered — 
Twelfth Maine at Manchac Pass 454 



Becomes his own " Secretary of the Treasury " — Debased condi- 
tion of the Currency — Compelling the Banks to pay out Specie — ■ 
Curbstone dealers in Confederate money — Their Course a relia- 
ble news Barometer — Street Disturbances — Case of Mrs. Larue 
— No money to pay the troops — Farragut's Appeal for influ- 
ence — Adams Express Company called on — An Army self- 
supported — Banks' subsequent Troubles — " General Butler didn't 
give Reasons for his Orders " — The Confiscation Acts enforced 
among the Planters — Congressional Election — Count Mejan, the 
French Consul — Major Bell administers Justice — Intimations of 
Recall — Napoleon's demand and Seward's compliance — General 
Banks arrives — Butler in Washington, seeking Reasons — Inter- 
views with Lincoln, Stanton and Seward — Double-dealing of the 
latter shown — Farewell Address — Davis proclaims Butler a 
felon and an outlaw — $10,000 Reward — Lincoln desires But- 
ler's services — Return to Lowell 504 



Reception by People of the North — Addresses in New York and 
Boston — Called to Washington — Services desired on the Mis- 
sissippi — Offer refused — McClellan's willingness to become 
Dictator — A Young Man who appreciated himself — Lincoln 
and Butler discuss the enlisting of Colored Troops — Committee 
on Conduct "of War asks for Suggestions — Exchange of Pris- 
oners considered at some length — Butler appointed Commis- 
sioner — Scheme for retaliating Abuses — Proposed, but Negatived 
— Confederates object to exchanging colored prisoners for white 



. — They also object to Butler — Conference with Ould, the Con- 
federate Commissioner, and proposition — General Grant takes a 
hand — Explains to Butler that exchanging prisoners Recruits 
the Confederate Army, and orders it to cease — Butler to Ould 
on rights of negro prisoners — Confederate leaders not wholly 
to blame for Andersonville — Southern Troops themselves 
meagrely fed — Davis' charges against our Medical Officers 
critically Examined 561 


Detailed to Command — Extent of Department — Minor Expeditions 

— Pusillanimity of the Government regarding Reprisals — Wis- 
tar's Attempted Surprise of Richmond and Capture of Davis 
frustrated — Advantages of occupying Bermuda Hundred noted : 
Grant and Butler plan its occupation — Presidential Election of 
1864 — Both Lincoln and Chase offer Butler the Vice-Presidency 

— Embarkation at Yorktown and Seizure of City Point — Drury's 
Bluff should have been seized at Once — Fortifying the Neck — 
Minor Demonstrations — Misleading Despatches from the Army 
of the Potomac — Butler's Corps Commanders, Smith and Gill- 
more, insubordinate and hostile — The .Fighting around Drury's 
Bluff — False Despatches of Grant's successes — Butler supposes 
him rapidly approaching and acts accordingly 617 



Truth regarding Grant's position learned at length — The Last 
Fight at Drury's Bluff — Butler retires to Bermuda Hundred 
according to agreement — Beauregard's attacks and withdrawal 
— Smith's Corps called to the Army of the Potomac — The tenth 
of June General Giilmore marches up to Petersburg and then 
marches down again — Butler requests Gillmore's removal — 
An Incident : While on a lookout Butler becomes a Target — A 
Pontoon Bridge built under Difficulties — Gen. William F. Smith 



ordered to attack Petersburg on June 15 — He dallies and delays 
until it is too late — Conduct and character of Smith critically 
considered — His Accusation that Grant was drunk — Verdict 
as to Smith . 655 



Across the James River — The demonstration of August 13 — But- 
ler's plan for attack on Newmarket Heights — An Order : Respect- 
fully submitted to Critics — Gallant and brilliant Charge of the 
Colored Division on Fort Newmarket and Capture of Fort Harri- 
son by General Ord — Butler gets between the Lines — Lee's 
vain Attempt to retake the Position — Butler's log-house Head- 
quarters — Courage of Colored Troops demonstrated — Medals 
for Bravery — Dutch Gap Canal : Dug and blown out to let the 
Fleet up the River, and then the Navy is afraid to go — Sent to 
New York in November to insure a Fair Election — Suppressing a 
Militia Commander — Troops in ferry-boats all about the City — 
August Belmont wants to bet — The Gold conspiracy — - How 
Butler kept the price down — Butler offered post of Secretary of 
War — Banquet to Butler — Beecher names him for President — 
An Unfortunate Affair 717 



Plans for reducing Fort Fisher — Why the Powder-Boat experiment 
was Suggested — Delay in Starting — Grant aware that Butler 
was to lead the Expedition — Off Fort Fisher : Porter arrives at 
length — Heavy gales prevent landing — To Beaufort for sup- 
plies — Explosion of the Powder-Boat, Bombardment of the Fort 
and Landing of Troops — Porter sails away, the sea runs high, 
and Butler takes off the Troops on shore — Why he did this : 
the whole Expedition critically considered — Porter's Subordi- 
nates make a ridiculous Fiasco of the powder-boat Scheme — 



Butler in no way concerned in It — Strength of the Fort : Testi- 
mony of various Officers — Course sustained by Committee on 
Conduct of War 774 



Grant requests Butler's removal — Succeeded by Ord — Turning 
over the Department Accounts — Not permitted to publish Report 
on Fort Fisher expedition — Grant's expressed Reasons for the 
removal duly Considered — Influence of Grant's Staff Officers — 
The Imprisonment of Chaplain Hudson — Punishing Insubordinate 
Officers — Taxing Local Dealers for the benefit of the Government 

— Haifa Million dollars Raised — How it was Expended — The 
Matter of " Arbitrary Arrests " Considered — Real reason for 
Removal : Regular Army Influence coupled with Political Jealousy — 
Grant was deceived, and he acknowledged it after the War — 
" Bottled Up " — Grant withdraws the Expression ; — His regrets and 
his tribute to Butler's ability — Something about One Badeau — West 
Point and its claim to all Military Wisdom — Grant did not get 
enough West Point to hurt him — Halleck's efforts to get Butler 
removed — Halleck's characteristics described — West Point In- 
triguers among the Confederates — After Gettysburg Lee offers to 
resign in Mahone's favor — Butler's Farewell to His Troops . . . 827 



Tribute to Individual Staff Officers — Closing Days of the Rebellion 

— An Interview with Lincoln — Disposal of Colored Troops dis- 
cussed — Butler proposes to take them to the Isthmus of Darien 
and dig a canal across — Lincoln's death stops the enterj)rise — 
Conferences with President Johnson — Belief that Traitors should 
have been punished, and their Property Confiscated and given 
to Northern Soldiers — Johnston's terms of Surrender to Sherman 
drawn by the Confederate Cabinet — Davis would have con- 
tinued the War — His Imprisonment in Irons — At President 
Johnson's request, Butler suggests a Method for trying Davis : 
A Military Commission, with an Appeal to the Supreme Court of 

the United States 891 





Living in a Tent on the Beach, he is elected to Congress — Takes 
Part in Financial Questions — Greenbacks are Money, and hence 
good enough for Bondholders — Congressional Election : Run- 
ning against R. H. Dana, Jr. — Sample stump Speeches — E. 
Rockwood Hoar and Harvard College — Trying to Impeach 
President Johnson — Presenting the Case — Did Johnson know of 
Booth's plans : A Private investigation — Crittenden's Challenge 
and Butler's Answer — Greenbacks declared Legal Tender by 
Supreme Court — Proposition for an Interchangeable Bond — Plea 
for Governmental System of Terminal Annuities — Position on 
Reconstruction - — United States should have had Canada for the 
Alabama Claims — " You shall never be Governor of Massachu- 
setts" — "I Will be Governor of Massachusetts" — And he be- 
comes Governor — That Council — Tewksbury — The Fast-Day 
Proclamation — Appointees — Harvard College — Running for 
President in 1884 — Cleveland's Election Fraudulent 919 



Early Enamored with the Rules of Pleading — Collision with an 
elderly Judge, who prefers to "err with the Ancients" — One 
cannot steal a Key from a Door — Tries the First Bankruptcy 
Cases — What a Lawyer must do to Succeed — Loses more Cases 
as Years Progress — The Reason : Called in after the Patient is 
Dead and Buried, and the Sexton gone home to supper — Defeat- 
ing the Annexation of Charlestown to Boston — Anecdotes of 
Chief Justice Shaw — The Great Northwestern Conspiracy — 
Farragut's Prize Money — Interesting Criminal and Civil Cases 
— Lawyers Must be ready to confute Experts — Defending a 
Murderer: A Worse than Thankless Task — Hanged in Effigy in 
Maiden — The Truth about that Millwheel Story ...... 985 


Appendix it»9G) 1039 

Index 1133 



Birthplace of Ben j..F. Butler at Deerfield, N. 1! 38 

Powder-Horn of Zephaniah Butler 41 

* Waterville College, Waterville, Mo 67 

Swords of four generations 81 

Ruins of Ursuline Convent at Charlestown, Mass 110 

John Brown's Fort 133 

Secession Hall, Charleston, S. C 187 

* Washington scenes in 1861 157 

1. Pennsylvania Avenue looking towards Capitol. 

2. War Department before War. 

3. Navy Department before War. 

Massachusetts State House, Boston, Mass 172 

Annapolis, Md 191 

Montgomery, Ala., showing State Capitol 219 

Fortified position at " Relay House " 224 

Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md 230 

Headquarters at Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md. . 232 

* Views of Fortress Monroe 247 

1. A water battery. 

2. Second front for rampart. 

3. Commanding officer's headquarters. 

Contraband of War 258 

Colonel Mallory's three negroes before General Butler at Fortress 

* Denotes full page. 

** Denotes double page. 




* Marching Contrabands to work at Fortress Monroe 265 

* The Contraband of War 273 

Meeting of General Butler and General Carey at Union Picket Lines 
next Hampton. 

* The Cause of the War 301 

Ship Island in 1861 .351 

1. Yiew of Island and fleet. 

2. Fort Massachusetts. 

3. Yiew of Island from Fort. 

Forts Jackson and St. Philip (Five views) 366 

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans 375 

The Levee at New Orleans 402 

Women of New Orleans insulting Federal Officers 416 

* Custom House at New Orleans before War 427 

The Mint at New Orleans 442 

Changing sentinels of First Colored Troops at New Orleans . . . 493 

Richmond, Va., in 1861 . . 505 

Arrest of Mrs. Larue at New Orleans 511 

Door-plate taken from Richard Yeadon's residence 547 

Gen. U. S. Grant, from photograph taken in the field 593 

Libby Prison ' 603 

Convalescent colored Union soldiers at Aikens' Landing .... 609 

Confederate Capitol at Richmond 641 

General Butler's horse . • 652 

* Headquarters of General Grant at City Point, Va 667 

Lookout and Signal stations, Cobb's Hill, Army of the James . . 680 

Despatch boat " Greyhound " 684 

Aikens' Mansion on James River 693 

Headquarters of Gen. Godfrey Weitzel before Richmond .... 699 

Camp of colored volunteers before Richmond "709 

Headquarters of Gen. Alfred Terry before Richmond 714 

Arrival of first Confederate cannon captured by General Butler's 

colored troops 732 

* Headquarters of General Butler on James, eight miles from Rich- 

mond 739 



Butler Medal to colored troops Army of James 743 

„ „ „ „ „ » reverse side ... 743 

* Dutch Gap Canal on James below Richmond, commencement of 

operation 745 

Bomb-proof quarters at Dutch Gap Canal 748 

View of Dutch Gap Canal on James below Richmond 749 

Completion before exploding of mine. 

View of Dutch Gap Canal on James below Richmond 750 

Blowing out bulkhead. 

Fort Brady, battery commanding James River 760 

Powder-boat "Louisiana" at Fort Fisher 788 

Clock-work to explode the powder-boat " Louisiana " 802 

Dismal Swamp Canal 845 

1. Deep Creek Lock. 

2. West Weir at Deep Creek. 

3. Village of Deep Creek. 

4. Canal. 

* General Butler's Yacht "America" 869 

Original winner of the America's cup, and blockade runner during 
the War. 

Library, General Butler's Home at Lowell, Mass 923 

Sleeping Apartment, General Butler's Home at Lowell, Mass. . .1031 


Capt. John Butler, father of Gen. B. F. Butler 42 

Mrs. Charlotte E. Butler, mother of Gen. B. F. Butler 45 

Mrs. Sarah Butler 79 

Benj. F. Butler in 1839 . • 79 

* Lieut. Ben Israel Butler, son of Gen. B. F. Butler 83 

* Mrs. Blanche Butler Ames, daughter of Gen. B. F. Butler ... 87 

* Mrs. Sarah Butler 95 

* James Buchanan 153 

Gustavus V. Fox, Assistant Secretary United States Navy. . . . 287 

* Andrew J. Butler 315 

* Abraham Lincoln 331 



Admiral D. G. Farragut 354 

Benj. F. Butler in 1863, from life-size bust 390 

Major Joseph M. Bell 521 

* General Butler and Staff 527 

Captain Martin, Lieutenant Harrold, Captain Clark, Captain Davis, 
Colonel Shaffer, Colonel French, Captain Haggerty, Lieutenant 
Clark, Lieutenant-Colonel Kinsman, Major Strong, Major Bell. 

Medical-Director MacCormick 540 

Brevet Maj. -Gen. J. B. Kinsman 578 

Gen. J. W. Shaffer 585 

Gen. Godfrey Weitzel G20 

Simon Cameron 633 

Gen. Chas. A. Heckman 644 

* Gen. Birney, commanding Tenth Corps, Army of James, and Staff, 719 
Gen. Hiram Burnham 737 

* Gilman Marston 777 

* Lieut-Gen. IT. S. Grant 826 

Col. John Cassels 851 

Capt. George A. Kensel . 861 

John I. Davenport 900 

* Emancipation Proclamation 905 

* Managers of the House of Representatives of the Impeachment 

Trial of Andrew Johnson 949 

* Wendell Phillips 963 

Benj. F. Butler in 1856 992 

Jeremiah Mason 1013 

Kufus Choate 1018 

Daniel Webster 1025 


* Chesapeake Bay and interior 185 

* Mouth of Mississippi, si lowing strategic jjosition of Ship Island 

with approaches to New Orleans 357 

Section of Mississippi River, showing defences of Forts Jackson and 

St. Philip 360 




Diagram of Fort Jackson 362 

Topographical Map, survey between Lake Ponchartrain and Missis- 
sippi River 409 

Profile of Canal across Burey's Point opposite Vicksburg .... 462 

* Bird's-eye view of Vicksburg and vicinity 479 

Topographical Map, city and battlefield of Baton Rouge .... 482 
* # Bermuda Hundred and vicinity with line of fortifications between 

James and Appomattox Rivers 660, 661 

** Vicinity of Petersburg, Va 674, 675 

* Fort Fisher 793 

Diagram of Powder-Boat " Louisiana " 805 


* # Review of Union Armies at Washington, D. C, at close of 

War 177, 178 

**Banquet at Fifth Ave. Hotel, N. Y., Rev. Henry Ward Beecher 

nominating General Butler for President 624, 625 

** Butler's speech for Horace Greeley, N. Y 838, 839 

** Governor Butler and Escort on way to University Exercises at 

Harvard 978, 979 

## General Butler arguing against the annexation of Charlestown to 

Boston 1004, 1005 


* Letter of Abraham Lincoln 389 

** Resolutions presented to General Butler by New York citizens . 553-560 

* President Lincoln's General Order 569 

* Letter of I. Horace Lacy to Gen. Wm. Mahone 881-887 

^Sherman's terms with Johnston 910,911,912 




JIE political system of this country is founded upou 
what Rufus Choate once termed a "glittering gener- 
ality," contained in the Declaration of Independence, 
that "all men are created equal." This is a truth 
as applied to political rights, immunities, and bur- 
dens, but an utter absurdity so far as it is made to 
describe other mutual relations of people. He would not be con- 
sidered sane who should solemnly declare that all individuals of 
any other of the larger species of animals are created equal. 
Take the horse, for example. All the world agrees to radical 
differences and varying capabilities among horses according to the 
race and "blood," and all acknowledge distinctions in the higher 
class of "blood." This recognized difference in the peculiarities 
of different classes of animals has led to grave consequences to 
mankind, causing one to be called to be a king, another a lord, and 
the great mass peasants. 

This fact, misapplied in giving right and power to " blood, " still 
maintains itself in most countries of the world save ours, where it 
does not and cannot affect governmental action. That blood does 
not and cannot of itself maintain a class, either of intellectual 
superiority or of physical vigor, by " breeding in and in, " is patent 
from the well-known condition of the royal families of Europe, 
among whom there has been so much intermarrying for many years 
that hardly a reigning monarch in Europe has had any considerable 
influence in the conduct of affairs of his own government because of 
his inferior intellectual qualities. And so far as health and vigor 
of body is concerned, many people of the royal families can scarcely 
be said to have a "leg to stand on." Wellington, Napoleon, Dis- 



raeli, and Bismarck directed the affairs of Europe, if not of the 
world, more than all the monarchs of their century ; and the people 
govern America. 

The nobility of England, it is but just to say, stands higher in 
physical beauty and strength, and in intellectual force, than any 
other "peerage " in Europe. But it would long since have died out 
from inanition, had it not maintained itself by very frequent mar- 
riages with the yeomanry and the peasant classes, and by constant 
accessions from the commercial men and mechanics of England 
through the appointment of fresh peers therefrom, with an occasional 
admixture of brewers and Jews. The progeny of a class of this sort 
exhibits higher mental and physical qualities than are shown in the 
children of parents who are themselves the product of intermarriages 
for a series of generations. Of course there are exceptions to this 
generalization. There may be able children of degenerate sires. 
But whether such instances are not proof of the rule depends upon 
the question, whether, from some earlier intermingling, better blood 
may not have been taken from the lower class. 

There is another rule which it is believed is well established, that 
the firstborn inherits the highest qualities of the capabilities of the 
father and mother. This rule has a curious corollary, shown in 
early English history, and perhaps now, that these higher qualities 
are transmitted to the offspring in greater extent when the procreation 
is under circumstances of high mental or physical excitement, and 
in a marked degree when not sanctioned by legal forms. The bar 
sinister of heraldry is on the escutcheons of the highest, bravest, and 
greatest men in the upper classes of all nations. 

What may be called domestic history in our country proves that 
the truths here spoken can and do appear where all men are politically 
equal, and that they require no privileged class to demonstrate a 
natural fact. Such occurrences may be tested by the reader of 
mature age who calls up retrospections of the family traditions of 
his own neighborhood. 

Indeed, it is neither speculative nor theoretical to aver that the 
great longevity, physical strength, soundness of constitution, assured 
health, endurance, and mental and physical energy and activit} r of 
the earlier inhabitants of our country, came in the very largest 
degree from the intermingling and mixing of the blood of several 


distinct races and peoples. There would have been no such result 
to the descendants of any one people. 

The colonists of the province of New Hampshire, which at first 
included Vermont, possessed very largely these qualities which I 
have ascribed in ^art to the intermingling of distinct races. Many 
of them were strong men, born amid the turmoil and strife of other 
countries, fleeing here for refuge from oppression, or more often 
for the purpose of enjoying full liberty of opinion, religious and 
political. Here they were surrounded in their e very-day life with 
conditions of the strongest excitement because of the incursions of 
savage foes. Every faculty of mind was on the alert, and every 
function and sinew of the body was called into constant and intense 
endeavor to support life and defend themselves, their wives, and 
their children. Thus they lived in that state of "mental and physi- 
cal excitement " which I have claimed causes the transmission of 
the best faculties of the parents in the fullest development of their 
offspring. They dwelt in an atmosphere of continual warfare for 
almost two hundred years, no generation escaping either an incur- 
sion of savages at their doors, or a general war. Does not history 
show that such conditions have in all times made braver, stronger, 
and more capable founders of states ? 

In 1620 King James had established a council of forty noblemen, 
knights, and gentlemen for the planting and governing of Neiv 
England, in America. Their territory extended from the fortieth 
to the forty-eighth degree of north latitude. This was the origin of 
all the grants of the country of New England. The charters 
issued in those times show no knowledge of the country, for even 
its geographical boundaries by lakes and seas continually interlaced 
each other. 

Mason, a sea officer and prominent member of the council, 
obtained, in 1621, an immense tract extending from Salem on the 
sea around Cape Ann to the Merrimack River, and to the farthest 
head thereof, with all the islands lying within three miles of the 
coast. This grant was named "Marianna." In 1622, another grant 
was made to Mason and Gorges of all the lands between the Merri- 
mack and Sagadahoc, extending back to the Great Lakes and " River 
of Canada. " This grant was called " Laconia. " So little was known 
of the continent that it was supposed the "River of Canada" (the St. 


Lawrence) was within a hundred miles of the mouth of the Merrimack. 
It seems to be beyond dispute that this colony of Laconia was estab- 
lished by prominent merchants whose aim was to establish stations for 
fishing and carrying on commerce. Entire freedom of religious views 
was permitted, and Wheelwright and Hutchinson came here when 
expelled from Massachusetts Bay. The land within certain portions 
of the grant was afterwards occupied under the designation of New 
Hampshire, and this included the territory now known as Vermont. 

The townships were all laid out with a church and parsonage 
lot, or glebe, and a school lot, after the manner of the Church of 
England. This was in compliance with an order made to the 
ministers by the council. 

New Hampshire was settled in organized plantations about the 
year 1623. A charter was given to Mason and Gorges in opposi- 
tion to the Plymouth charter, which had been taken possession of 
by Puritan adherents of that most wonderful man Cromwell, a 
farmer, who, having married into the nobility, begot one child, 
Richard, who inherited none of the qualities of father or mother. 
Our Puritan fathers were highly intolerant, as they had a right 
to be. They came here to establish a theocracy, which looked to 
God as the divine ruler, and to His word as containing the best 
system of laws. And they did perfectly right, for they had come 
more than three thousand miles to a savage wilderness expressly 
for a home where all men might enjoy freedom to worship God, 
provided one worshipped in compliance with the creed and tenets of 
the Puritan sect. Indeed, they had left Holland because they found 
there entire freedom of worship according to every one's conscience 
and belief. This license, they claimed, seduced away their young 
men and maidens from the true faith, so that the service of God had 
fallen into disrepute, and the number of worshippers had decreased. 

I, for one, believe they had the most indisputable right to pre- 
vent anybody from remaining within their boundaries who did not 
worship God precisely as the owners of the soil and founders of the 
colony determined. Our Puritan fathers had by no means taken 
exclusive possession of the best part of the United States, but they 
certainly had a right to control that part which they had taken, and 
anybody who did not choose to conform to their religious views 
could move on. Therefore they had the Episcopalians take the back 


seat in the meeting-house with the negroes, and they banished 
Roger Williams. He was of the most prayerful life and conversa- 
tion, and his followers, in their belief, differed from the Puritans 
on little else than the question, whether the use of any considerable 
water was necessary fully to convert a confessed sinner into a Chris- 
tian, and constitute him a member of the Church of God. The 
Anabaptists were also banished, and Quakers were prohibited from 
coming in under a penalty of one hundred pounds, which the person 
who brought them must pay, and carry them back besides. And if a 
Quaker was found there not coming by sea, he was to be punished 
by death. 1 

Indeed, the distinction between the two colonies was that during 
all this time freedom from religious persecution found its home in 
New Hampshire. So well was this understood in the mother 
country, that New Hampshire was largely settled by the cadets of 
good Episcopalian families, and loyalty to the royal government was 
so substantially maintained therein that when, under Charles II., 
the monarchy was restored, while Puritan Massachusetts shielded 
GofT and Whalley, the regicides, none of the attainted or proclaimed 
thought of taking refuge in New Hampshire. 

A most remarkable accession to its population, and one which has 
had the best influence upon the character of its people, came from 
Ireland. It was a colony of Scotch Presbyterians which had settled 
in the Province of Ulster in the reign of James I. They had borne 
the brunt of the siege of Londonderry ; they had been the right hand 
of King William in the battle of Boyne Water; and, being oppressed 
by their Catholic neighbors after James had been routed from 
Ireland, they emigrated to New Hampshire. They established 
themselves in the centre and northern parts of the province, naming 
their new settlements after their Irish homes, so that to-day, going 
through their towns of Deny, Londonderry, Chester, Antrim, and 
Hillsboro, one would almost think that he was travelling in the 
north of Ireland. These men in position at home were far above 
the ordinary ranks of life. They were of exceedingly vigorous phys- 
ical organization ; so much so that there was added to them great 
length of days. The first planters in Londonderry lived to an 
average of eighty years; some lived to ninety, and others to one 

1 Colonial Laws of Massachusetts, edition of 1672, pp. 60-61. 



hundred. Among the last was William Scovy, who died at the age 
of one hundred and four. The last two heads of the sixteen families 
who first settled that town died there in 1782, aged ninety-three 
years each. In Chester, an adjoining town, there died James Wilson, 
aged one hundred years; James Shirley, 1754, aged one hundred 
and five, and his, relative of the same name aged ninety-one; and 
William Cragy and wife in 1775, each aged one hundred years. 
Col. James Davis was one of these emigrants, and he was a man of 
remarkable stature as well as years. He died in 1749, aged eighty- 



eight years. Samuel, ninety-nine years; James, ninety-three years ; 
Thomas, eighty-eight years ; Daniel, sixty-five years ; Sarah, ninety- 
one years; Hannah, seventy-seven years; Elizabeth, seventy-nine 
years; Ephraim, eighty-seven years; and Phoebe, aged eighty-five 
years, the widow of Samuel, aged one hundred and two years, were 
living in 1J 92. 

These noticeable facts bear evidence of the healthfulness of a 
climate where the air was impregnated with a profusion of the 
"effluvia from resinous trees." 


From the beginning, the many great men who have stood out 
before the country as representatives of New Hampshire will be 
found to be descendants, either lineally or collaterally, from these 

One of the descendants of the Scotch Presbyterians, or one might 
say almost a contemporary, because he was born with the century, is 
Hon. George W. Nesmith, late Justice of the Supreme Court of 
Judicature of New Hampshire. He is still in healthful, vigorous 
old age, with a mind clear, thoughtful, and comprehensive, and, in 
1889, gives promise of a much further prolongation of life, a promise 
which all hope will be fulfilled. This venerable man has done a 
thing the like of which no man ever will do again, upon the doctrine 
of chances: he voted in 1840 as presidential elector for the election 
of William Henry Harrison as President of the United States, and, in 
1888, forty eight years after, as such elector, voted to make president 
his grandson, Benjamin Harrison. 1 

Nay, so potent were the Scotch Irish Presbyterians in the councils 
of New Hampshire, and so intense was their hatred of popery, 
that in the constitutional convention of 1784, which organized 
the province as a State of the United States, they were enabled 
to have inserted in the Constitution (which in almost all things 
else copied the Constitution of Massachusetts of 1783) clauses 
enacting that every officer of the State, elective or appointive, 
must profess the Protestant religion. Yet at the time there 
was not a single Roman Catholic parish, or priest exercising his 
functions, within the limits of New Hampshire. And so strong has 
been the feeling transmitted from father to son that this clause 
was not expunged from the Constitution until four conventions to 
amend it had been held. 

The fact that there were very many English among the early 
settlers in New Hampshire had an effect upon the pronunciation of 
the language, and especially of the proper names, which was almost 
as marked as a like pronunciation in Virginia, and, until lately, the 
pronunciation in England. For example, the proper name Currier 
was always pronounced as if spelled K-i-a-h, and the highest courts in 
New Hampshire have judicially determined them to be idem sonans. 
Goodrich was pronounced as if spelled G-u-t-r-i-d-g-e ; Seelye as if 

1 Judge Nesmith died, in 1890, since this paragraph was written. 


spelled C-i-1-l-e-y; and Seabrook as if spelled S-a-y-b-r-o-o-k. 
These pronunciations show their English tone. They found no 
imitation in Massachusetts save in Marblehead, a purely English 
settlement, where Crowninshield was pronounced as if spelled 
G-r-u-n-s-e-1, and Florence as if spelled F-1-u-r-r-y. 

The English blood is also seen from the fact that in the 
earlier times, in the courts of New Hampshire, more form and 
ceremony was observed, and more outward respect was paid to 
the judges. This was continued down to a later day than in any 
other colony. 

The towns of New Hampshire, being on the frontier and in the 
direct line between Massachusetts and Canada, were the scene of 
many a conflict in the French and Indian wars that were nearly 
continuous for the first one hundred and twenty years after the settle- 
ment. This educated almost every one to be a trained fighter, and 
a man rarely ever left his home, whether for the field or for church, 
without taking his musket, powder-horn, and bullet-pouch. From 
this necessity arose the change of construction in the interior of 
meeting-houses. The pews of the English church at home were 
square, while in New Hampshire the earlier pews were slips, at 
the head of which sat the master with his gun always ready to 
answer the call of the war-whoop of the savage. So that every one 
who can trace his lineage back to the early settlers of New Hamp- 
shire is born of fighting stock. 

I have endeavored to sketch that part of the early history of my 
native State which pertains to the colonists who settled it and the 
causes contributing to the character of its people, in order that I 
might demonstrate the proposition with which I began, that the 
stock from which one comes is very material. For if the proposi- 
tion be not true, then, in a republican government, the question 
" of whom begotten or by whom begot ? " is, and ought to be, of no 
consequence to any individual, or to his peers. 

My paternal grandfather was born in Woodbury, Connecticut, of 
Irish descent, and of a most strictly Irish Presbyterian family, as 
his own name Zephaniah, and his uncles', Levi and Malachi, most 
plainly show. The branches of the family were numerous, and the 
names of those who were of the proper generation to take part in 
the War of the Revolution, will be found in the local history of that 




Powder-Horn of Zephaniah Butler, 1758. 

contest wherever Connecticut men took part, whether in Pennsyl- 
vania or Wyoming, or in the western reserve of Ohio. 

Zephaniah went to Quebec with Wolfe, and I have the powder- 
horn which he bore, dated April 22, 1758. 

He went from Connecti- 
cut to the town of Notting- 
ham in New Hampshire, 
and married Abigail, 
daughter of General Joseph 
Cilley. They had several 
children, the youngest of 
whom was John, my father, 
who was born May 17, 
1782. He married Sarah 
Batchelder, of Deerfield, 
New Hampshire, June 5, 
1803. By. her he was the 
father of three girls, Polly 

True, born June 8, 1804, Sally, born March 11, 1806, and Betsey 
Morrill, born January 9, 1808. The last of these is now living 
at Nottingham, New Hampshire, the widow of the late Daniel B. 
Stevens, Esq. Mrs. Sarah Batchelder Butler died February 23, 
1809. John Butler then married Charlotte Ellison, July 21, 1811. 
She bore him three children. The eldest, Charlotte, born May 13, 
1812, died in August, 1839. The second child, Andrew Jackson, 
was born February 13, 1815, and died February 11, 1864. The 
third, Benjamin F., was born at Deerfield, New Hampshire, Nov. 5, 
1818, about four o'clock in the afternoon. 

Upon the breaking out of the war of 1812, John Butler applied 
to the war department for permission to raise a company of light 
dragoons among his neighbors. Permission was granted, the com- 
pany was raised, and he was commissioned its captain on the twenty- 
third of July, 1812. 

Captain Butler served with his troop on the northern frontier 
until he broke his left leg. The broken limb was so badly set that 
he could not thereafterwards wear a boot, and he resigned his 
commission. Unwilling to remain idle while the war was going 
on, and having a taste for the sea and shipping, he sailed from 



Portsmouth in a privateer fitted out by himself and his friends. 
He did some harm to the enemy, and in return therefor he received 
a commission from the government to be the bearer of despatches 
to General Jackson at New Orleans. He carried out his mission 
and was thus enabled to make the acquaintance of General Jackson, 
for whom he entertained the highest respect and admiration. 

Hence, having a son 
born on the 13 th of 
February, 1815, he 
named him Andrew 

The war being 
practically ended, 
as the battle of New 
Orleans was fought 
after the treaty of 
peace had been 
agreed upon, my 
father turned his 
attention to mercan- 
tile voyages, going 
several trips to the 
West Indies and 
Spanish Islands on 
the coast of South 
America. While 
so engaged he took 
letters of marque 
under Bolivar, and 
with his vessel 
formed a part of Bolivar's expedition. When Bolivar crossed the 
Cordilleras, my father returned to the West India Islands and, 
in order to refit, landed at the Island of St. Christopher (St. Kitts), 
one of the British Islands. While there he died of the yellow 
fever, el vomito. So did some portion of his crew and one of 
his officers, I believe his first officer. That pestilence and its 
terrible results was among the first diseases of which I remember 
ever to have learned from my suffering mother. I mention this 


Capt. John Butler, War of 1812, 

Father of Benj. F. Butler. 
Engraved from an Oil Painting. 


because ft made so indelible an impression on my memory that it 
impelled me, when I was older, to investigate that scourge to such 
extent as I might, and this investigation had some effect upon 
my conduct of affairs in later life. 

My father's services on the South American coast, under a com- 
mission from the head of a republic not then having fully achieved its 
independence, were of much the same kind that Paul Jones rendered 
for our Revolutionary fathers on the coast of Scotland under like 
circumstances. A few evil disposed persons, I have heard, have 
denounced my father's acts as piracy. The man has never lived 
who suggested that to me, and I never saw it in print but under 
the following circumstances : — 

After I returned from New Orleans one M. M. Pomeroy, who had 
obtained the sobriquet of "Brick Pomeroy," established a scurrilous 
newspaper in New York. In order to get a circulation, he placed 
before his office a miniature statue, supposed to be of myself, 
shouldering a spoon. This was to the delight, I doubt not, of the 
inhabitants of Mackerelville, whom I tamed when in New York. 
He afterwards made Some such publication, I was told, in a pamphlet 
which I presume he had not the courage to send to me ; nor did I 
ever take any notice of the matter, because I knew the motive of the 
man. His wife, who, I had been informed, was an estimable lady, 
had called upon me with grievous complaints of "Brick," saying 
that he had entirely neglected her and left her after afflicting her with 
a terrible disease. I undertook proceedings for a divorce which led 
to an adjustment. I hope the good lady is alive for she can testify to 
the circumstance. I had also been counsel against him in another 
case in the Circuit Court of the United States for the southern 
district of New York. In this case Pomeroy was sued for grievous 
wrongs done to a young lady, as the court records will show. But 
as Pomeroy was found to be utterly penniless and worthless, it was 
useless to bring the case to trial. I do not know whether Brick is 
alive or not. I should be sorry to learn that he is dead, because I 
hope that he may have the pleasure of knoAving that, in justice to 
him, I have preserved his memory to go down with my own as far as 
mine will go. 

The death of my father in St. Kitts, and the irrecoverable loss of 
what he had there, left my mother in a state of comparative poverty. 



But against it she struggled with wisdbm and vigor, and with some 
success. My Uncle Benjamin took charge of my brother in his 
younger years, and so long as he lived looked after him. My 
mother and my younger sister went to live for a period with my 
Uncle William and my grandmother on my father's side. They 
owned and carried on a small farm in Nottingham, New Hampshire. 

It is proper, however, that something should be said of that 
mother, whom I love, honor, and revere beyond any other person 
ever on earth. Her father and mother were Scotch Presbyterians. 
My grandfather, Richard Ellison, when a young man, had fought 
at the battle of Boyne Water for King William, and had received 
some reward which enabled him and his wife to come to America. 
He joined the colony about Londonderry, New Hampshire, and took 
up a farm at Northfield, on the Pemigewassett, or main branch of 
the Merrimack River. Here he had several children, the youngest 
of whom was my mother. He and his family removed to Canada 
about the time of my mother's marriage. They were respectable 
and honorable people, and were certainly long lived, for my 
mother's sister lived to exceed the age of one hundred and four 

I, at four years of age, was thought to be a puny child, — prob- 
ably the results of my mother's anxieties and fears for my father 
during his absence. Quiet, gentle, and eager to learn, I was taught 
my letters by my mother and given a slight advance in the spelling- 
book. In the summer I was sent away to school at Nottingham 
Square. This was quite two miles away from our home, especially 
as the last half of the distance was up a very steep hill, on which 
the Vermont traders in the winter, going down to Portsmouth with 
their sleighs heavily loaded with produce, sometimes had to double 
up their teams. I attended that school for six weeks, and learned 
to read with but little difficulty. I remained at home during the 
autumn, and then it was that our shoemaker gave me the book of 
all books for a boy, "Robinson Crusoe." The question was not 
whether I wanted to read it, but whether I could be kept from 
reading it, - so as to do the little matters that I ought to do, and was 
able to do, called in New Hampshire nomenclature, "chores." My 
mother, laying aside her labors which were quite necessary for our 
support, taught and explained the book to me with great pains. 



But being a religious woman of the strictest sect of Calvin, she 
thought that I ought not to have so much secular reading without 
some Christian teaching ; and so we struck a bargain that I should 
learn so many verses in the New Testament if she would help me 
read so many pages in "Robinson Crusoe," she agreeing to explain 
both to me. My reading, thereupon, was almost continuous, 
scarcely anything but eating and sleeping intervening. To force 
me out of doors to take required exercise, she was obliged to send 
me on errands, and make me 
get up the cows from the 
pasture, the limit of which 
was about a mile away. I 
had to get up early in the 
morning to drive them forth, 
and go out late in the after- 
noon to drive them back; 
and as they were by that 
time likely to have wandered 
far off from the opening of 
the lane into the pasture, it 
gave me, in the course of 
the day, about two miles to 
run. The nearest boy lived 
a mile from us, and as he 
had his own duties to attend 
to, I saw very little of him. 
Every fair evening, before 
her labors began by the light 
of the candle, and when I 
had no light to read by, my 

mother, wrapped up if it was cold, used to sit teaching me the names 
of the stars and constellations. These she had learned of her father, 
who was somewhat of a scholar. She told me about the signs of the 
zodiac, and about the rising and setting of the sun. I remember 
once she stood in a very terrific thunder storm by the window 
fearlessly, — I now suppose that I might be like fearless, — and 
explained to me all that she knew — or was then known — of the 
lightning. She told me never to be afraid of it, because it was in 

MJ } "m^ [ MS: ■*_/; ■.■■ ^y , : .. v.J;, . 


Mrs. Charlotte Ellison Butler, 

Mother of Benj. F. Butler. 

Engraved from a Daguerreotype. 


God's hands; that if He willed my destruction by it, it was not to 
be evaded or shunned, and, therefore, was not to be dreaded. When 
the evenings were dark, her labors with her needle began earlier. 

In the following winter, my mother and my uncle provided a home 
for me in Deerfield, with Aunt Polly Dame, — no relative of mine 
save that she was aunt to all the world. She was a good old lady 
taken care of by her daughter, and sat in the corner spinning flax on 
what was called "the little wheel," to distinguish it from the "great 
wheel " on which wool was spun. 

I went to school, and I think was liked by my teacher, for I was 
not a troublesome scholar, except in the way of asking very many 
questions, and of seeking explanations about matters which I was 
not infrequently told did not concern me. The school at Deerfield 
Parade lasted longer than that at Nottingham. I remained during 
the summer term, reading everything I could find, almost commit- 
ting to memory the almanac, and vexing everybody who came into 
the house for explanations regarding the signs of the zodiac. Upon 
this last matter I could get no further information, the usual answer 
being that it did not concern me. But this did not prevent my 
asking the next person that I thought could tell me. I appropriated 
the full astronomy of the almanac, and profited much by it. 

In the winter of my sixth year, I walked from my home every 
morning down .to Nottingham Square to school, carrying my dinner 
in a little package. Provision had been made, that if it became 
stormy, I was to be taken into the tavern near the schoolhouse, and 
there kept until the weather cleared and the roads were again 
passable, — which they sometimes were not for three or four days. 
I then learned that there was a small town library there, and of all 
things that a boy of that age should read, I was allowed to take from 
the library Rollin's Ancient History, — and I read it. 

,1 had not the slightest knowledge of chronology, and I thought 
the events in the history followed one after another in point of time, 
— the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans, accord- 
ing to the chapters. But when they began fighting with each other, 
I got mixgd up, because, according to my understanding, the first 
of these ought to have passed away when the others came on the 
scene. My reading did not interfere with my school lessons, which 
I pursued with a great deal of eagerness and pleasure, and also with 


much success, owing to a tenacious and exact memory. Before I 
was seven years old, I could answer all the questions in Whelpley's 
Compend of History, a very bulky volume, the answers having been 
picked out for me to learn, by being marked by the master's 
pencil. I remember now one example which will illustrate the sort 
of instruction that I received; that is to say, I learned the words, 
but what they meant was then utterly uncomprehended. For 
example, one of the questions was substantially this, as I remember 
it, and although I have not seen it for more than sixty years, I think 
I state it accurately: " If these States had not declared their inde- 
pendence, what would they now be?." Answer: "Little better 
than British Provinces." But what a British Province was, I had 
no earthly idea, and I asked the teacher one day. He had seventy 
scholars beside myself, and I do not now blame him for not answering 
me. He told me that he did not have time to explain it to me. 
Well, I do not think he had. 

But there was another part of my education which was thoroughly 
instilled, — the traditional history of the Revolution, and its battles 
and events. Two of our neighbors were Revolutionary pensioners, 
and our kitchen fireside was a very pleasant resort for them, as the 
cellar was furnished with an unlimited quantity of cider, which was 
drawn for them in a tall, yellow earthen pitcher with an overhang- 
ing lip dropping away from each side. To fill it three-parts full, 
and then bring it up from the cellar, was about the extent of my 
physical ability; but that I was to do. Then they would take 
down from the mantel-tree some red peppers which hung on a string 
under the gun, and cut them up and put them into the cider. 
Next, they set the pitcher down on the hearth before a blazing fire, 
held up by a forestick, — a stick about four feet long and eight 
inches through, — so that the cider would get very much heated; 
and then it was drunk with a gusto that almost makes me wish I 
had some now if I could enjoy it half as well. Then followed 
stories of the Indian wars ; of garrison houses, and of women run- 
ning from the fields of corn, pursued by savages, and sometimes 
overtaken, and sometimes saved by the faithful musket of the hus- 
band or father. Then they came down to later times, — the opening 
of the Revolutionary War, the massacre at Lexington, and the battle 
of Bunker Hill, and so talked on until I had as deep-seated a 


prejudice against a red-coat as our turkey gobbler exhibited to a red 
petticoat, when he drove my sister into the house. Thus I was 
taught that the highest achievement in life was to get behind a stone 
wall and shoot a Britisher, and I longed for the time when I should 
grow up to do it. So thoroughly was this drilled into me, that in 
after life it was a matter for reasoning on my part whether I should 
treat an Englishman decently. 

The difference between this feeling and that which I had toward 
the Frenchmen, who fought us with the Indians, and who helped 
the savages scalp us, was that the French were poor fellows who did 
not know any better; and besides, the French had helped us in the 
Revolution against the British, so that we would forgive them, but 
the Britishers, never! 

As time wore on, I was literally adopted by my grandmother, my 
grandfather having died several years before. She was a very 
remarkable looking woman, who stood about five feet eleven inches 
in her stockings. She was then in the neighborhood of eighty years 
old, and walked with a stick, yet she was as erect as ever, and was 
the most imperious person I have ever seen, to everybody but me. 
She had a most inflexible will, apparently never yielding to others, 
and subjecting all others to herself. She read to me, but inasmuch 
as she read as she had been taught in her youth, it was almost 
unintelligible, and this caused some difficulties between 'us. For 
example, she always pronounced w-o-u-l-d as if it were spelled 
w-o-o-l-d, and s-h-o-u-l-d as if spelled s-h-o-o-l-d, and she taught 
me that the name of the sign of conjunction (&) at the end of the 
alphabet was ampersand, a word which I learned afterwards, from 
an old spelling book of her generation, was really "and per se." 
She told me the history of battles as they were known and seen by 
her, the daughter of a general and the mother of a captain in the 
first and second wars with England, and all the pathetic incidents of 
the wars, like the capture and death of Jane McRea, who was sur- 
rendered to the French, and scalped by their Indian allies, in the 
northern part of New York. 

She also, told me, boy as I was, of the injustice of the men toward 
the women, and toward their own younger brothers, in assuming to 
enforce the law of primogeniture, and how, when they failed to pass 
it in the constitutional convention of New Hampshire, the men made 


their wills so as to accomplish the same thing, giving substantially 
all to the eldest son. I reverenced her. 

She ate two of her meals at the same time as the rest of the 
family, having a table *to herself, and I alone had a place at it, 
generally sitting on the elbow of her arm-chair. She also taught 
me fully to understand her politics, which, so far as I could under- 
stand them, were that there ought not be any kings, princes, barons, 
nobles, or knights. She never said anything against aristocrats, 
and my memory of her now is that if ever there was a high-priestess 
of the aristocracy, she was one, and especially did she dilate upon 
the fact that her family, the Cilleys, was the best in the State. 

Can anyone doubt where I learned my political status : demo- 
cratic politics in government and personal aristocracy? 

I give these details, although they may seem puerile. In time, 
they had great effect upon the bent of my mind, though not much 
then, because the most of what was said I did not understand. But 
I remembered it all, and it came up to meet every emergency of 
thought later on. Hence my democracy; for hers was the only 
political teaching I ever had until I learned political economy from 
the books, and that was no teaching at all. 

My grandmother died at the age of eighty-four. A severe cold 
brought her life to an end, when her physical and mental strength 
were apparently as good as ever. Her sister, Alice Cilley, married 
Captain Page and went to Maine, first settling in Hallowell, and 
afterwards living in Cornville with one of her children. I never 
saw her until after I went to college in Maine, and I may possibly 
have occasion to refer to her hereafter. She died in 1849, at the 
age of ninety-nine and a half years, and was able, the summer 
before she died, to mount her own horse without assistance, and 
ride out some three miles to visit a neighbor. 

I attended a partially private school or academy at Deerfield until 
I was eight years old. In this school almost every branch of prac- 
tical learning was taught except the languages. There were many 
young men in the school, and some young women. My teacher was 
Mr. James Hersey, afterwards postmaster of Manchester, New 
Hampshire, a city which had no existence in those days. His 
specialty was English grammar, — at least he made it so with his 
pupils, — and he was the most intelligent teacher of the English 


language I ever knew. He saw to it that we were thoroughly 
versed in the rules, and explained the difficulties of construction of 
our language with great clearness, so that even I, the youngest, 
understood them. His favorite exercise was parsing. We used 
very different text-books then, from those now in use. Among 
them were Pope's " Essay on Man" and Cowper's "Task," and I 
remember I got my first feeling of hostility to slavery from being 
called upon to parse a half page beginning " Is India free, or do we 
grind her still ? " 

Our teacher taught us to construe verse, — that is, to render it 
into prose, so as to show the grammatical construction of the parts. 
There was a sort of constructiveness about that putting of verse into 
prose which chimed in with my love of putting things together ; and 
I became quite an adept. I speak of this because an incident 
regarding it had an effect on my whole after life. 

It had been debated whether it was not desirable that I should go to 
college, for my mother's most ardent desire was that I should become 
a Calvinist Baptist clergyman. Ways and means were pretty narrow, 
and it was doubtful whether the plan could be carried out. Boys went 
to college in those days at the age of from twelve to fifteen. Judge 
Josiah G. Abbott, of Boston, one of the ablest gentlemen now at 
the bar, with whom I have practised for many years and know how 
thorough his training was, went to Harvard at twelve. 1 

There was an examination at our school at which all the Metho- 
dists, and other clergymen, and principal men of the vicinity were 
present. The first class in parsing was called, and I, naturally 
in size and every way, was at the foot of it. We had "Pope's 
Essay on Man " as our text-book ; for in those days there were 
no easy books for children, — none of the thousand treatises that 
have been invented since to teach children not to think, and that 
are at the present day, I believe, a great hindrance to intelligent 
education. I remember this paragraph was the opening one of 
the recitation : — 

" The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, 
Had he thy reason would he skip and play ? 
Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food, 
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood." 

1 Alas ! I have lost my friend by death since this sentence was at first written. 


" Parse lamb, " said the master to the pupil who stood at the head 
of the class. He tried. 

"Wrong; next." He tried. 

"Next." He tried, and so down through the class, some eight in 
all. Then came my turn. 

I said: "Lamb is a noun in the objective case and governed 
by dooms." 

" How do you know that ?" said the master. 

" Because I construe the paragraph ' Thy riot dooms the lamb to 
bleed to-day; had he thy reason, etc' " 

"Right," said the master; "take the head of the class." 

I did so; and it was the proudest event of my life. A consultation 
was held by all those who had a right to be consulted, and it was 
decided that I should be sent to Exeter to be fitted for college, with 
the hope that a free scholarship might be found for me. I continued 
my studies, and late in the following autumn I went to Exeter. 
Here I commenced the study of Latin, and soon afterwards that of 
Greek. I must say, truthfully, that my learning at Exeter did not 
amount to much. To be sure, I acquired the Latin grammar with a 
certainty of memory that was excelled only by my uncertainty as to 
the meanings of the rules it contained. My learning was nothing 
but memorizing. It was the same in the study of Greek. I was 
far too young to appreciate the beauties of the "Iliad," but I was 
reasonably Ave 11 taught in the conjugation of Greek verbs. 

I attended the Unitarian Church, as the rules of the school 
required. Boy like, I was confused by the new doctrine of one 
God and the Son of Man, as opposed to the doctrine of the triune 
God, — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I had been taught the latter, 
and I could not permit myself to have any doubts concerning it. 

In 1825, there was springing up on Pawtucket Falls of the 
Merrimack River, the second great manufacturing town in Massa- 
chusetts, Waltham on the Charles being the first. This town 
afterwards Lowell, was then known as East Chelmsford. It had 
a growth unexampled in those days, and almost equalling the mush- 
room growth of towns in some of the western States at the present 
day. The constitutional convention of 1820, by a new section, 
made cities possible in Massachusetts, fixing the limit of population 
at which any town could become a city at twelve thousand. This 


was the population of Boston, and that town became a city in 1822. 
But in 1836, Lowell's population had increased to twelve thousand, 
and she became the second city. A clergyman, who had befriended 
my mother, built a house in Lowell for her to occupy, and by his 
advice I came to Lowell from Exeter at the end of the winter term 
in 1828, and studied my Latin at home during the spring and 
summer. Seth Ames, afterwards Justice of the Supreme Court of 
Massachusetts, kindly permitted me to read Yirgil in his office. 
He amused himself in hearing my recitation of the text, and taught 
me to scan the versification of the original. Later in the year it 
became necessary that I should earn some money, and my mother 
got me a place at Meecham & Mathewson's, the Franklin bookstore, 
the only establishment of the kind in the town. I remained with 
them until December 18, when the Lowell High School was 
established, through the exertions of Rev. Theodore Edson, rector 
of St. Anne's Church. Mr. Edson, having come to Lowell in 1825, 
remained as rector of St. Anne's for over sixty years, most respected 
and most loved by his fellow-citizens. To him more than to any 
other, Lowell owes its school system, which, during its whole exist- 
ence, has been one of the best established, most thoroughly cared 
for, and most highly successful of kindred institutions in the State. 
Mr. Edson was a brave man as well as a good man. When he per- 
ceived the right thing to do, he did it, regardless of personal 
consideration, or of danger to himself. 

Kirk Boot, who discovered the advantages of this locality as a 
water power, was then the leading mind in Lowell. He had been 
an English cavalry officer, and his family had occupied what was 
known as the Boot estate in Boston, since changed into the Revere 
House. He was a very positive man, and inclined to be imperious 
toward everybody, especially toward those who stood in apparently 
dependent relations to himself. 

The edifice of St. Anne's Church and the parsonage attached, had 
been built by the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, and, as I 
have said, Mr. Edson, the young clergyman, had been installed 
therein. j\lr. Boot had built for himself a mansion not far from it. 
He was a devout Episcopalian, and had a highly ornamented pew 
of large dimensions, after the manner of English squires in parish 
churches. To support this church, the operatives of the Merrimack 


Manufacturing Company were taxed a small sum, — I think thirty 
cents each month, — and this sum was deducted from their wages. 
Mr. Boot, from his training, was not as much impressed as Mr. 
Edson was with the necessity for the education and welfare of the 
common people, who were, of course, the operatives in the mills. 
Almost all of the land on which the town stood was held by the 
Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River. They 
sold off: this land, and they also sold the water power furnished 
from the Merrimack River by a dam. This dam was put across at 
the head of Pawtucket Falls, although the law said that there should 
be no dam, because it would affect the navigation of the river. 
The water was conducted through the new town of Lowell, at first 
by a canal, which had been established by the Proprietors of the 
Locks and Canals about the year 1792, for the purpose of taking 
boats around the falls. 

With a foresight as sagacious and remarkable as was the persist- 
ency with which the scheme was carried out, Mr. Edson, in connec- 
tion with a committee of the citizens of the new town, determined 
that two squares or commons, the North and South Common, should 
be dedicated to the public use. It was done; and the commons 
remain even to this day the breathing and recreation points of the 
citizens. That enterprise for the benefit of the laboring man and 
woman and their children was not opposed by Mr. Boot, as the land 
was comparatively valueless. But Mr. Boot was astounded when 
the young clergyman proposed that two schoolhouses, costing more 
than twenty thousand dollars, should be erected for grammar schools, 
— one on the corner of each park. A very considerable number of 
buildings for primary schools, then termed infant schools, had been 
hired and put in use in various parts of the town, but up to that 
time, anything like instruction of the elder classes of children was 
not provided for, save that two or three small rooms had been hired 
for that purpose. The taxation of that day for those new grammar 
school buildings of brick would be borne substantially by the manu- 
facturing companies and the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals. 
Mr. Boot declared that this could not and would not be done. A 
town meeting was called, to appropriate for such expenditure by the 
town. Mr. Boot appeared in person and opposed the proposition. 
He was backed by the managing agents of the several mills. They 


made speeches against it. The proposition seemed not to have the 
slightest chance, when in one corner of the hall stood up a slender, 
smooth-faced young gentleman of winning manner and graceful ease of 
speech, and declared to the meeting that it was necessary for the 
instruction and training of the children of the people of the town 
that the appropriation should be passed. He was surprised and 
chagrined, he said, at the opposition of the representatives of the 
manufacturing corporations, because it was necessary for the safety 
of their property and the insurance of its value that the manufac- 
turing community which they were drawing around them, espe- 
cially the younger portion, should be thoroughly trained and educated, 
that they might know their duties as men and women, and their 
rights as citizens and freemen. 

His speech was called at that time radical in an almost unheard 
of degree, although it was accompanied by an appeal for religious 
instruction in connection with the secular instruction. But it evi- 
dently was carrying the meeting. The debate was extended by 
several replies, no man speaking in favor of the proposition save the 
young clergyman. Nevertheless it was apparent that if the vote 
were to be taken then the appropriation would prevail. Accord- 
ingly a motion to adjourn to a day in another week for its con- 
sideration was made and carried by its opponents. During the 
adjournment Mr. Boot informed Mr. Edson that any further 
advocacy of this proposition would so far meet with his disapproba- 
tion that he should withdraw from his church and from attendance 
upon his ministration; that he should give his attendance and 
influence to another religious society, and that all support of St. 
Anne's in any way by the manufacturing companies would be 

Few young pastors of the fashionable churches of the town, and 
certainly very few of the not very popular religious persuasion, 
would have been found at the next town meeting under such 
discouraging influences and surroundings. The day of the meeting 
came. The young pastor was there. With a firmness equalled 
only by .the eloquent appeal made for his fellow-citizens of the 
coming generation, he answered every argument against the propo- 
sition, and after a long debate the vote was taken and the proposi- 
tion was carried. The schoolhouses were built and occupied. In 


the upper story of the southernmost one a Lowell High School was 
taught. Here I received, if not the most part, the best of all my 
educational teaching in my preparation for college. 

In the year 1830 another contest was made, and, as its result, 
the Lowell High School was established. The school began in 
December, 1830, in a little one-story wooden building about forty 
feet square, rudely fitted up. Here were assembled about fifty 
pupils whom their parents claimed to be sufficiently advanced to. 
come within the purview of its teaching. The scholars were drawn 
together by the spirit of enterprise in their fathers, not one of then* 
having been born in Lowell. 

At the risk of departing from the true course of self-narrative, I 
may be permitted to tell who and what were my classmates. There 
were eight of us in the first class, the classification being made accord- 
ing to apparent advancement in scholarship. The one alphabetically 
at the head, whose education went no further than in that one school, 
became afterwards a Boston merchant of high standing, and later 
still a merchant in the State of Vermont. He is an enterprising 
man, and is one of the wealthiest and best prized citizens of the 
State. Another fitted for college in the class, became a graduate of 
Dartmouth, and died young, standing very high in his profession as 
a surgeon. Another, whose education was ended there, became a 
civil engineer of the very highest standing, founded tne manufacturing 
city of Manchester, New Hampshire, and was for several terms 
governor of that State. Another, who left the school and became a 
midshipman in the navy, rose to be of the first class in his profession, 
and afterwards was the active head of the navy, and the only efficient 
one it had during the War of the Rebellion. He lived to cross the 
Atlantic in a new vessel of the unheard-of class, a monitor, and to 
demonstrate its availability abroad as well as at home. Another, 
going from this class to a medical school, fitted himself for his 
profession as a surgeon, and, before his untimely death, became one of 
the most successful and best known surgeons of the country. Two 
others became reputable and somewhat distinguished citizens. The 
remaining one is the writer. 

The Rev. Mr. Edson was the foster father of this school, and 
brought for us our teacher, Thomas N. Clark, a graduate of Yale. 
Mr. Clark taught us for nearly two years, and with him we went 


into the new schoolhouse. The numbers of the school increasing 
with the same rapidity as the new town, he brought to his assistance 
a classmate from Yale, Mr. Clapp, who afterwards left our school 
to go to Charleston, South Carolina, where he finally became the 
editor of the Charleston Mercury. He was the most bitter pro- 
slavery and states-right gentleman I ever knew, and his cutting 
sarcasms permeated every page of his writing. In his early life he 
happened to be bitten in the heel by a rattlesnake. He did not die 
from the bite, but those whom he did not like said the venom of the 
poison remained in him. For some reason, which as a boy I never 
knew, the school was suspended when Mr. Clark retired from the 
teachersbip to enter his profession of the ministry. In this profession 
our reverend teacher rose steadily, and is now loved and honored by 
his denomination, as he is by every former pupil, as the bishop of the 
diocese of Rhode Island. 

During the suspension of the school, I spent the time reading 
everything that I could command, finding myself again in a lawyer's 
office, but without any thought of becoming a lawyer. Finally the 
school was reorganized under teaching of Mr. Nicholas Hopping, an 
estimable gentleman enough, of fine scholarship and usually gentle 
manners, but utterly without the special capacity to train young 
men, and particularly those who had enjoyed the teachings of Mr. 
Clark. Indeed, we dealt with him rather as a foe, and all the 
resources of pretty active minds were exhausted in an endeavor to 
make his position as uncomfortable as possible and useless to our- 
selves. His unfortunate name was a source of continual attack, 
and gave occasion to the most unpremeditated and irritating pun I 
ever heard at school or elsewhere. One morning a classmate, who 
may not wish me to give his name, had a pretty severe tiff with 
the master in which both lost their tempers. Immediately after- 
wards the first class was called up to read in Pierpont's reader. 
The order of exercises was that each man, as we called ourselves, 
should read a paragraph and then give the definition of the principal 
words therein. To the classmate of whom I have spoken a portion 
of Collins' Ode to the Passions was given. It contained the phrase, 
"Eyes with fine frenzy rolling." The teacher: "Give the defini- 
tion of frenzy." Pupil: "Hopping mad, sir." No further defini- 
tion was asked of that scholar. 


At the Lowell High School I finished my fitting for college, to 
which I went very unwillingly. Just before I was to enter, my 
mother asked the Hon. Caleb Cushing, then a member of Congress 
from Massachusetts, to give me an appointment at West Point, a 
thing of which I was very desirous. He had known my mother, and 
knew that she was a soldier's widow, and he expressed a willingness 
to appoint me at the next vacancy. But that vacancy would be 
a little time thence. My mother then made application to the Hon. 
Isaac Hill, of New Hampshire, who was supposed to be all-powerful 
in such matters with Jackson's administration. He replied that he 
would see to it that such appointment was given to the son of a 
soldier who was his own early friend. But here a difficulty arose. 
My much loved mother was a very devout Christian, believing in 
the doctrine of Calvin, and viewing unbelief as the unpardonable 
sin. I had been very religiously brought up. I had been taught in 
the Sunday school, and by her, until I was, for my years, fully 
conversant with the Scriptures. I had committed to memory the four 
Gospels, and once had recited them at call for a quotation in every 
part. I knew every word, not even excepting the first eighteen 
verses of the first chapter of Matthew, where everybody begat every- 
body else. That chapter was my hardest lesson, but I was once 
master of it. My mother's clergyman, a good Baptist, was consulted 
upon my being sent to West Point. He advised strongly against 
it. He said that I was a religiously inclined boy, and one well 
versed in religious principles; and at West Point there was, he 
understood, a great deal of free-thinking among the pupils, if 
not among the teachers He felt that if I went there my religious 
feelings and principles would be derided and scoffed at, and that I 
should doubtless be converted into a free-thinker myself. And, 
therefore, as my mother earnestly desired that I should be a clergy- 
man of her persuasion, he thought that I had better be sent to a good 
Baptist college, at Waterville, Me. (where he had graduated) in the 
labor department, where I could do something to earn my subsistence. 
He was convinced that there, aided by the example of those around 
me, I should probably fulfil my mother's long-cherished expectations 
by becoming a clergyman. He was a very good man, but had very 
litle insight into human nature, or at least into the nature of the 
boy for whom he was dealing. 


He ought to have known that if I had been sent to West Point, 
and had my comrades, or anybody else, derided, scoffed at, or 
belittled the religion of my mother, I should have fought for it, 
stood by it, and found argument to support my belief in it, and very 
possibly would have been one of the few religious gentlemen who 
have come from West Point, like General O. O. Howard. 

So I was sent to Waterville, where a majority of the pupils were 
fitting for the ministry, and some of them were even then perform- 
ing, in part, the duties of clergymen. Unfortunately, I had a much 
higher standard as to clergymen than they had, and I naturally 
observed all their shortcomings and outgoings. And when religious 
matters were discussed, as they very soon were, and I was not found 
quite up to the belief, they undertook to teach me. But they 
broached subjects upon which I knew quite as much as they did and 
thought a little more. In consequence, I could very easily trouble 
them with questions which it was impossible for them or any one 
else to answer. The result of my taking the other side was that my 
own faith was weakened. The more we discussed, the more I was 
disliked by some of my college mates. On the other hand, certain 
ones, whose faith had been shaken, closed around me more closely, 
and we set up for ourselves against the prevalent beliefs in which 
we were being educated. 

Before the first year had ended, I had changed my intention 
entirely regarding the ministry, if ever I had much in that direction, 
and devoted myself to the physical sciences, especially chemistry. 
I was exceedingly interested in books on alchemy, and in the experi- 
ments which had been made in the vain endeavor to find the 
philosopher's stone. I think I was imbued almost with the enthu- 
siasm of the earlier chemists, and above all, I was inspired to believe 
that chemistry and its adjuncts were to be the means of opening 
a very great field of highly promising labor and research to benefit 
all mankind, particularly in the study of those sciences which were 
to test the magnetic and electric discoveries by Galvani, the results 
of whose researches were then being exploited by the great discov- 
eries of Sir Humphry Davy. 

I believed that the gates for pursuing chemical knowledge and 
investigation in a regularly defined and scientific manner were 
opened by the wonderful invention of the murdered Lavoisier in his 


chemical nomenclature, which gave name and place to all chemical 
substances in their relations to each other, and took them out of the 
unintelligible and incongruous diction which surrounded, hindered, 
and impeded all the work of the alchemists. 

Static electricity, claimed to have been deduced by Franklin from 
heaven, and produced on earth by friction upon certain resinous 
and vitreous surfaces, seemed to me to be too evanescent, fitful, and 
uncontrollable (because one must use all or none of it at one time) 
to be of any effectiveness in the arts, or of substantial use to man- 
kind, save, as I was taught, as a remedy for controlling the nerves 
of delicate women. 

I took great interest in that mysterious substance which made to 
quiver the leg of a dead frog lying on a copper plate when touched 
with a piece of zinc, and which could be produced in quantities 
sufficient for experimental use by means of the pile of Volta. This 
pile could readily be made in a student's room by building up plates 
of differently oxidizable metals with soft moistened porous mattings 
between them. It furnished power sufficient for electrical experiments 
in the same direction in which Davy, by a powerful battery of cells, 
was reducing into new combinations at will substances which had 
been hitherto deemed entirely simple and elementary. This substance, 
I believed, was the elective power of the future. At that time, so 
far as I knew, no thought of any connection between magnetism and 
galvanic electricity had occurred to the scientific mind. For nearly 
two years, I pursued my scientific studies. They were substantially 
outside of the course, because our professor of chemistry, Dr. 
Holmes, for reasons satisfactory to himself, did not think it worth 
while to give lectures on chemistry. Prof. George W. Keeley, how- 
ever, gave us the fullest instructions on light and static electricity, 
by which I very much profited. I believe it was at that time that 
I first heard of Miss Sommerville's conceptions as to the polar- 
ization of light. 

Of course, these studies did not advance my standing in my 
regular recitations, some of which I must confess were wretched. 
I remember one in geometry which called forth an animadversion 
and a reply, neither of which was proper, between teacher and pupil. 
The teacher took the chalk from me as I retired from the blackboard, 
and said, in the presence of the class, " Butler, you don't know 


anything." The pupil replied, "Not about that demonstration; but 
I can tell you a good many things that you don't know," — which 
was as true as it was impudent. It was admitted in college, how- 
ever, that upon the subjects of which I have been speaking, I was 
farther advanced than a pupil, and I was allowed to have access 
to the chemical laboratory as assistant to Professor Holmes, who 
was not there. I had one mate in these studies, Mr. David 
Wadleigh, and we devoted ourselves to chemical experiments 
together, with the natural result of actually blowing each other up 
with explosive preparations. 

There was another matter which made me careless of my standing 
in the regular course. It was that the rules of the college required 
students to attend prayers at daylight in the winter at the chapel, 
and go to church twice on Sundays. I regret to say I did not 
always do this, shirking the prayers more frequently, however, than 
the sermons, perhaps, for the. reason that I was very much interested 
in the doctrinal character of the latter. 

A course of doctrinal sermons was preached by the Rev. Samuel 
F. Smith, an earnest speaker, who very clearly put the doctrines 
before us so that we could understand them. During his whole life 
he had been a teacher of the Calvinist Baptist faith, and obtained 
great and deserved celebrity as the author of what has become 
almost a national hymn, "America," "My Country, 'tis of Thee." 
The penalty of neglecting each prayer or sermon was ten cents, 
which- was quite a matter, considering how scarce the ten cents were 
in my pocket. But there was another penalty, and one which I 
deemed an injustice. My failure to attend prayers and church were 
marked so as to detract from my standing, as otherwise determined 
by my proficiency in my lessons. I thought this was unjust then, 
and I think so now; and I fought then as hard as I have been 
accustomed to fight against any palpable injustice, whenever such 
a case has come in my way. 

By diligent listening to these sermons I had confirmed for me 
what I had understood before to be the doctrine of Calvin. This was : 
that God was self-existent, omnipotent, omniscient, and foreknowing 
all things from the beginning ; that He was unchangeable, and that 
what He foreknew was predestined, and could not be different; 
otherwise He was not from the beginning omniscient. All mankind 


were of two classes in this regard, — one from the very beginning 
elected to be saved and to enjoy the presence of God in the mansions 
of heaven, and the other class, very much the larger, elected from 
the beginning to be damned to eternal torment in hell, which was a 
lake of fire and brimstone. Also, whoever had the means of grace 
before him, — to wit, sermons and teachings of divine truths, — who 
did not allow such teachings to bring him to a state of grace, would 
find hell very much hotter for him than would the poor heathen who 
had never had the Word of God preached to him, and who knew 
nothing of the jeopardy in which he stood. If I were elected to be 
saved, the sermons would do me no good, except, perhaps, to make 
heaven somewhat more pleasant. But where I was to go could not 
be changed, yet I was to pray God's mercy wherever I might be; 
that is, I must ask that He, in His mercy for a single person, would 
alter His divine laws made from the beginning and unalterable. It 
was my duty to make these useless trials and hear these teachings, 
the result of which might be to add to the miseries of the torment of 
the lake into which I was to be cast. 

My whole mind rebelled against this teaching. I could not and 
did not believe it. Its logic was inexplicable, and the results 
reached were wholly contradictory, marked with great injustice, 
and unworthy of an omnipotent Being who had made His creatures 
and fixed them from all eternity in this dilemma. Besides, I was 
condemned by the rules of the college to attend the prayer^ and 
hear these sermons which would bring about such direful results 
if I were not elected to be saved ; and if I did not obey the rules 
I was to lose my standing as a scholar, and my money as a poverty- 
stricken student. 

I gave this subject the most careful consideration. I read much 
that bore upon it, and among the rest I read " Edwards on the 
Will," a most powerful argument in favor of the doctrine, of logic 
inexorable, whose conclusions could not be denied by any thinking 
mind which granted his premise of an omniscient and omnipotent 
God who foresaw and determined everything from the beginning. 
I saw that I must contend against a doctrine established in 1532, 
by Calvin, then the acknowledged head of the reformed religion of 
what was then called "the monstrosity of papacy." I saw that I 
was putting myself in opposition to the belief and platforms of a 


very large majority of those who held the established Protestant 
faith. All this, instead of changing my views, only confirmed me in 
my belief ; and I believe that my life has shown that where I thought 
myself in the right I never counted the number of my opponents 
in shajnng my action. Boy of seventeen as I was, I believed I 
had a right to controvert a doctrine established at first by the boy 
Calvin, only seven years older, three hundred years before, in a 
superstitious, witch-burning age, whose doctrines modern science 
and modern thought had overturned in most parts which could be 
brought to the test of actual truth. 

Smarting under the feeling of injustice done me, it occurred to me 
that I could make my movement against the belief by petitioning the 
faculty to be relieved from going to prayers and church. I therefore 
sent in a petition to the president, couched in the most modest and 
most carefully chosen language I could command. In this petition 
I stated my position fully, and asked to be excused from obeying the 
rules of the college, since, if they taught me the truth, they 
would work out upon me the direst results. I declared I was 
taught by the sermon I had heard, that the number elected to be 
saved was a very small percentage of the whole number of God's 
* intelligent creatures on earth ; that I believed that all the faculty 
had, in the language of the sermon, obtained the means of grace, and 
so must be of the elect. I admitted that I was a graceless youth, and 
could have no hope of being one of the elect, and, therefore, all the 
penalties of the sinning away of days of grace would fall upon me. 
I admit that the latter part of my prayer was somewhat illogical, 
because there were no means of determining whether my good teachers 
were elected to go the right way, and because it was possible that 
God, from the beginning, had determined that I should go the right 
way. But still, upon the doctrine of chances, I was clearly right. 

It was easy to foresee the result of addressing such a paper to 
a conscientious body of men thoroughly imbued with the belief that 
what I claimed was little, if anv, short of blasphemy. I was con- 
demned to the severest reprimand, and it was probably only the 
consideration of the grief that it would cause my Christian mother 
that kept me in college. I may say, I trust without offence, that 
the only thing that made me hesitate to do what I did was the 
thought of the grief it would cause her. But I could not be a 


hypocrite even upon that great inducement. The mistake that I 
made was one that I fear I have too often made since, not in 
religious, but in political matters, of declaring my opinions before 
the community was ripe for them. 

Yet I believe that more often than otherwise the people have 
grown up to adopt these opinions. I remember one instance which 
it may not be out of place to recall here, although hereafter I may 
have occasion to discuss the matter at more length. It is that more 
than twenty years after I enunciated the fact that the greenback is 
constitutional currency, whether issued in war or in peace, the 
Supreme Court of the United States sustained that opinion by an 
almost unanimous decision. It has taken longer to vindicate my 
religious opinions thus enunciated ; but I see by the newspapers that 
the Christian synod of Presbyterian Calvinists have concluded to 
abrogate from the Westminster Catechism and from the platform of 
the church, those doctrines which I attacked fifty- two years before. 
I thank heaven for kindly prolonging my life until the present hour, 
because I can now go down to my grave with a little prospect that I 
have some chance of salvation. I accept the compliment of their 
endorsement with pride and gratitude. 

In the latter part of my junior year in college, a matter came 
to my attention, which caused an entire change of my intentions as 
to a future professional life. 

I had occasion to contemplate the professional acumen, the varied 
learning, the great and commanding insight into men's motives, and 
the mastery of the minds of other men, shown by a lawyer in conducting 
a trial of a case before a jury where facts are to be elicited, fraud and 
falsehood foiled, conflicting testimony and discordant facts compared 
and put together, and a great result worked out. 

In a neighboring county, a case was tried, where the country's 
great lawyer of that day, if not of any other day, took part (and almost 
sole part) in sustaining a will. 

To the reader who is not a lawyer, the name of Jeremiah Mason, 
and his skill as a tryer of causes, are now almost unknown. Even 
by the profession he is largely forgotten. Almost all great lawyers 
who do not write books have their names handed down by tradition, 
and even this fades out almost entirely after the lapse of half a 


Daniel Webster was once asked whom he considered the greatest 
lawyer of the United States. He answered: "I should, of course, 
say John Marshall [Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States] ; but if you should take me by the throat, and run 
me back into a corner and demand, fc Now, Webster, upon honor, 
who is the greatest lawyer?' I should have to say Jeremiah 

I was quite young when I first saw Jeremiah Mason. In later 
life, I saw him not unfrequently in court trying cases, some of them 
of the very greatest importance, and I had such cause to reverence and 
admire him that in my library, where I now write, stand three busts 
of the three greatest lawyers, each in his peculiar sphere, of whom 
I ever had any knowledge : Jeremiah Mason, Daniel Webster, and 
Rufus Choate. 

The consummate ability and skill shown by him in perhaps one 
of his most important trials, — the case of Ware vs. Ware, which I 
have mentioned, — has nearly tempted me into a description of the 
trial. But I am warned that I cannot do Mr. Mason fair justice, 
nor delineate him so that others can be brought to see and appreciate 
with me this consummate skill in cross-examination of witnesses, 
without taking more space than I dare devote even to so great a 
topic. To show him as he was in that trial, and as he appeared to 
me, would require a verbatim report of the whole case. 

The contemplation of his efforts and of the possibilities which 
were open to me in the profession of the law, convinced me that 
there were higher vocations in life than being either a doctor or a 
clergyman, and I resolved that I would take, as my sphere of study 
and labor, the profession of the law. 

I did not, however, give up my studies in physics and chemistry, 
for I believed that in the profession of the law a knowledge of the won- 
derfully advancing science of chemistry would be of assistance, 
especially in the trial of cases of murder by poison. In after life 
I have found, on more than one occasion, that the capacity to analyze 
the contents of the stomach of a person claimed to have died from 
poison, ha* been of great service ; and in civil cases more than once, 
when the ascertainment of the purity of substances was necessary to 
the knowledge of facts, has the knowledge of chemistry given me 
the most valuable aid in the trial of causes. 


The winter vacations were made very long, quite the length of 
the winter schools in Maine, and I taught school each winter 
at least eight weeks. The stipend was quite small, but it gave 
aid to expenditures during the rest of the year. I am glad 
to say, in advice to any young college student who desires to 
know how best to spend his college vacations, that these winter 
school teachings were the very best part of my education. In 
the day school there were spelling classes, and there were two 
evening classes in the week especially so devoted. Many of these 
evening classes were given up to competitive spelling, — that is> 
all the young people in the vicinage came together and competed 
for prizes for proficiency in spelling. The master gave out the 
words from the spelling-book, or from any other book he chose, 
the hard words being always picked out and put to the pupils of 
the evening classes. Thus the master of necessity became of the 
highest proficiency, and, like Lady Byron's governess, "by teaching 
learned to spell." 

In the hundreds of scholars under my care, all diversities of 
human nature were exhibited, and from the model I learned the 
man. I say, therefore, to the students of this generation, that they 
might far better spend their winter vacations in teaching school 
than their summer vacations in waiting on flirts at some fashionable 
summer resort. I do not admire that arrangement of college vaca- 
tions which enables such employment to be followed. Better return 
to the old one. 

In the third school year, I gave much more attention to the studies 
of the college course. They were more congenial. The text-book, 
Way land's Moral Science, interested me, and in my final examina- 
tion of the book, I was enabled to recite thirteen pages verbatim. 
Wayland's Political Economy taught me to be a free trader, as do all 
such college text-books teach students. These doctrinal teachings 
would be perfect did all nations stand, in all respects, upon a com- 
plete level; but as they do not, the teachings applied to statesman- 
ship are as useless as they are vicious. 

I have the very highest respect for the learned professors of 
colleges. But when they go out to talk on politics, they always 
remind me of a recluse old maid lecturing on how to bring up 


One portion of the exercises of that year was the reading of 
Demosthenes' "Oratio de Corona." I do not like to burden my 
printer to hunt up the Greek letters "Pro Stephanou." The ren- 
dering of that oration into good English was a delightful study, and 
I have a right to say that I charmed my Greek professor in that. 
But we had, unfortunately for him, a little tiff late in the term. 
He had an abiding hope of being made professor of rhetoric in 
connection with our Greek exercises. At the examination before 
the trustees, he called upon me to read the paragraph commencing 
"Gar in Hespera." I translated it certainly very creditably. 

To show the extent of his instruction, the professor began to ask 
a few questions in rhetoric : " What is this part of the oration 

"The peroration, sir." 

" How do you know it is the peroration ? " 

Of course the proper answer was : Because the orator sums up as his 
last and greatest effort the arguments that he has used before, so as 
to put them in the best shape possible to captivate the sense and 
mind of his audience. Thinking it a good time to get even with 
the professor, I answered: "Because you told me so, sir." 

This reply was to his great disgust, as it made it appear that his 
best Greek scholar had learned from him nothing but how to read 
the text. Suffice it to say that he did not get the professorship 
of rhetoric. 

As I have already admitted, my forte in college was not mathe- 
matics, and especially mathematical demonstrations by means of the 
blackboards. My tutor, of whom I have before spoken, remember- 
ing my impudence, thought to humble me in the examination in 
that branch before the faculty. It so happened that I went out, as 
those who were not being examined were at liberty to do, while the 
demonstrations of others were being made. When I went into my 
room, my trigonometry lay open at a pretty abstruse and difficult 
demonstration, and, while waiting there, I went carefully over it 
with a memory that would carry every line of it for a while. I had 
but just returned to my seat in the class when the tutor called out : 
"Mr. Butler, demonstrate on the blackboard such a problem." By 
good luck it was the very problem I had just studied. Of course 
the demonstration was quite perfect. If ever a teacher was thunder- 




struck at the proficiency of his pupil, it was Tutor Farnham on that 
occasion. Upon the whole, I graduated 7.5 out of 10 on the general 
average, prayers deducted. 

I had a part, and as I remember it, my dissertation was the worst 
one I ever made. In the afternoon, after the degrees had been 
conferred, the graduating class called upon the President, Rev. 
Robert B. Paterson. For him I had the very deepest regard, and 
for him and his family in later years I had the good fortune to do 
several kindnesses. He courteously received the class at the door 
of his house, offering his hand to each as we came up. We marched 
up in alphabetical order. It brought me near the head of the line. 
I held back and did not present my hand, and I have no doubt he 
supposed it was because we had had some discussion on the evi- 
dences of Christianity, wherein I took the liberty to differ from 
some of his propositions. Neither of us said anything until the rest 
of the class had passed by him. When I came to my place, 7.5, 
I said: "Mr. President, now is my turn; 8 has just passed." 

"Oh," said he, "Butler, why so formal?" 

" Because I am going to take this place in the class for the last 
time. I mean to take hereafter the place I have fairly earned for 

An incident occurred in the spring of that year which had consid- 
erable effect on my after life. On the 11th of May, the ice went 
out of Kennebec River, which was immediately behind the college, 
and a day or two afterwards, I went into the river to take a swim. 
Cakes of ice two feet thick were thrown upon the bank, and I used 
one of them for a seat for undressing and for dressing after I came 
out. It was not the first time that I had done that, but I lingered 
too long, and when I undertook to bring myself back to a glow by 
a run of a mile or so, I found that it was impossible, and at the end 
I was shivering as much as at the beginning. I went to my room 
and found myself seized with a severe cold. This terminated in 
a troublesome cough, so that on my graduation I weighed but 
ninety-seven pounds. 

On my return home my mother thought I was going into a decline, 
and she was told by her medical adviser to give me the benefit of 
a short sea voyage, which I took in a fishing vessel belonging to 
a friend of my father. On the day that we were to sail, I went 


on board. The old fisherman received me with great cordiality, 
which was not diminished nntil a box was handed over the side. 

"What's that, Ben?" said he. 

"A box of books, sir." 

"Mate, yon may put that down in the hold. You have had 
enough books, Ben; now I want you to become a sailor. And 
them store clothes won't do. Go ashore with the mate and get vou 
some sea clothes such as he will choose." 

I went ashore, but was not quite satistied with the mate's selec- 
tion. While I got the heavy clothing he desired, I insisted upon 
its being somewhat ornamented. I put it on in the shop where 
I bought it, and the mate took the bundle of other clothes back. 
My sou'wester had long ribbons hanging from the hat band; there 
was some embroidery on my jacket, and my pantaloons were more 
fit for the stage than for the vessel, and were not tucked in the tops 
of my boots. 

When I presented myself on board, the skipper said : " What do 
you think you look like ? " 

I with reasonable pride, said: "A sailor, sir." 

"No, you don't; you look like a monkey. Now I suppose you 
want a good time. You will sleep here in a bunk in the cabin with 
me, and you will eat with me, when we sit down to eat. I would 
advise you to let me put your name on the mate's watch list, and to 
take your place when the watch is called. If you do, you will have 
a good time ; but if you set yourself up here by yourself, you will 
never go forward without a pail of slush happening to tumble over 
you. You can tell the crew a great many things that will amuse 
and instruct them, and they can tell you a great many things that 
you don't know; and if you have any sense, — and you know I don't 
know whether you have any or not, — you will have to learn a great 
deal. But you will have to work hard, and if you have got any- 
thing in you that will bring it out of you." 

I took all the old man's advice. It was not delicate, but it was 
good. I took my place and was taught to "knot, reef, and steer," 
and very spoil the crew became very kind and very fond of me. In 
the long watches we exchanged information upon such points as each 
had been taught, so that when the watch was at end at midnight, 
frequently when I was yawning I would be kindly saluted with, 


" Go below, Ben, and get some sleep, and we will take care of the 
vessel until the .next watch is called." 

As we were cod fishing, we preserved the livers by throwing them 
into a half hogshead, where the oil was separated by the process of 
maceration and floated on top. The low temperature prevented 
anything like offensive decomposition, and when it was very cold, 
say ten below, I have taken the tin dipper, — and I alone was 
allowed to do so, — and dipped out the oil and drank with as much 
relish as I ever drank anything in my life. It was fuel for my 
stomach furnace. The air, frozen dry in the upper latitudes, 
restored my lungs, and when I reached home, I had gained some 
twenty-five pounds in weight. Since that time health and strength 
of body have never deserted me. I have never been sick in my life 
to a degree requiring me to spend half a day in bed, except as the 
result of an accident, so that in the four years of the war, I never 
lost a day by sickness. 

On my return to Lowell, I commenced the study of law in the 
office of William Smith, Esq., a New Hampshire lawyer of consid- 
erable learning. He had the most complete library in the city, and 
remnants of it, after escaping two fires, are still in my possession. 
But Mr. Smith had taken for himself an office in Boston, where he 
attended much more largely to operations in real estate than he did 
to legal cases, although he had a considerable practice. He went 
to Boston nearly every morning, coming back at night. He never 
interfered with my studies or gave any direction concerning them 
except to reply kindly and carefully to questions asked him. He 
at first gave me Tucker's edition of Blackstone, and told me to 
read it carefully, not attempting to commit it to memory, but 
studying it so as to understand it thoroughly. Then he left me 
to myself. I did not know how to read Blackstone, but I did 
that which was the very best way, so far as I can yet see, — I 
read the text and the notes, and then read the cases cited in the 
notes as the best means of understanding the text. But this was a 
very laborious and time-taking method. I also read some of the 
cases cited in the citation, so that as far as going through the book 
was concerned, I made but little progress, although I worked very 
diligently. I used to begin reading at half past seven o'clock in 
the morning, stopping at twelve for dinner, beginning again before 


one and stopping at six. I then returned to the office at seven, and 
closed usually at ten. 

For exercise, my brother-in-law had given me a small gray saddle 
horse, very sprightly and strong. I usually rode him four or five 
nights a week, for an hour or two hours, about the suburbs of the city 
and lonely ways of the neighborhood, meanwhile amusing myself by 
recalling and reciting snatches of poetry, especially from Byron, and 
Moore, whom I much admired, and sometimes from Pope and Scott. 

Commencing in the early autumn of 1838, this continued till 
late in the spring of 1839. By this time, I had finished my Black- 
stone, and was told to read "Kent's Commentaries for American 
Law." I had lighted upon a treatise published in Rhode Island 
upon the Constitution of the United States, apparently a text-book 
for schools. I began by committing to memory the Constitution. 
Then I read the author's comments upon it, which learning has 
stood me in good stead ever since. I also rea4 with eagerness 
44 Stephens on Pleading," one of the most delightful and profitable 
books I ever studied. 

Mr. Smith had a considerable number of tenement buildings in 
his charge, and about this time found it necessary to eject certain 
defaulting tenants by legal process. This part of his business he 
turned over to me, acting in his name, and at the same time allowed 
me the proceeds in the shape of costs, and sometimes small fees 
for my work. That brought me to practice in the police court, 
which was then presided over by the Hon. Joseph Locke. Judge 
Locke required all the proceedings of the court to be conducted 
with as much regularity and observance of forms and rules of law as 
were the proceedings of any other court. I now know what I did 
not then, that he was a lawyer fit to have presided even in the 
Supreme Court. He made the young gentlemen who generally 
practiced before him know what the law applicable in their cases 
was. This was a good fortune, for I looked up the law in regard 
to my cases, and studied each point with great avidity, so that I 
substantially began the study of law then. I soon became proficient 
in the law of evidence, especially in the rules of pleading in crimi- 
nal process. My studies, therefore, lasted frequently into the night, 
and I often called for my horse at the stable for a ride, after the 
liour of twelve had struck. 


This went on until the autumn of 1839, when a vacancy occurred 
in a small academy in the town of Dracut, across the Merrimack 
River, and the trustees asked me to take charge of the school. 
For my services I was to receive the tuition paid by the pupils, and 
that depended upon the number of scholars. It was a queer school. 
There were twenty-one scholars, about sixteen of whom were boys. 
The large portion of them were pupils who had found cause to leave 
the schools in Lowell, generally not because of their virtues. 
They ignored all discipline, and had routed the former preceptor. 
I, by habit of mind, was a disciplinarian, so that it happened at the 
end of three weeks I had lost eleven scholars out of my twenty-one, 
but no one of them had gone away without a thrashing, the remem- 
brance of which would last him a lifetime. My revenues seemed 
to be diminishing, but the fact that I had disciplined my school 
brought some more girls and a different class of young lads, so that 
I soon regained as many pupils as I had lost, and at the end of three 
months I had five more than at first. 

I took the utmost pains with my pupils, and spent every 
Wednesday afternoon and Saturday with most of them around me 
in the woods and pastures, explaining to them what I knew of 
trees, herbs, and flowers, minerals, and grasses, and the effects 
of light and shade. In a large closet belonging to the academy I 
arranged a camera and lenses, so that in bright afternoons I was 
able to show the refraction and dispersion of light by different 
lenses, and to exhibit to pupils the beautiful effect of prisms under 
a single ray of light, and the direction of the passage of rays of 
light through a cloud made by burning resin. The parents of the 
children became interested in such matters, for they had never seen 
the like before. Eventually, they provided means to darken the 
academy so that the experiments might be carried on with greater 
effect, and they attended. 

Meanwhile, I gave six hours a day to my studies of law. At the 
end of the term, I had the honor to have an earnest application from 
the trustees to continue the school for another term at least. This 
I felt myself obliged to decline, although my finances sadly needed 
the tuition money, which would have been in the next term fair 
remuneration. My object was my profession, and it could not be 


I returned to my studies and practised in the Police Court, 
always carefully attending the sessions of the Superior Court, and 
coining home to the office to study from the books the questions of 
law raised at the bar. I so continued until the September term, 
1840, for the Court of Common Pleas. The session was held in 
Lowell, and the Hon. Charles Henry Warren presided. Mr. Smith 
had quite given up the practice of the law in courts, although he 
had frequent applications for advice. He advised me to make appli- 
cation for admission to the bar, offering, if I were admitted, to go 
into partnership with me under my own name, because of his own 
financial difficulties. 

As the law then stood, if a student had slept in a lawyer's office 
for three years, claiming that he was studying law, and his teacher 
would give him a certificate that he had done so, he could be 
admitted to the bar as a matter of course. But if the student had 
passed any less time in a lawyer's office, he had to be subjected to 
an examination by a judge of the higher courts before he could be 
admitted. Mr. Smith made an application for me to the judge for 
admission upon examination, stating that he thought I could pass 
the, examination. The judge appointed an hour early that evening, 
at his lodging, for me to appear to be examined. He received me 
very kindly, and asked me when and where I graduated, and what 
I had done since. To all of this I answered, saying only that I had 
been attending to the law for two years, with the exception of three 
months that I had been engaged in teaching. He then asked me 
what text-books I had read. I told him. He said, "You have 
read very few text-books." That was too true to be denied. He 
said that he thought I had better read a year longer, and that he 
would advise me so to do. I said I was very much obliged to him, 
and I thought I had better read five years longer, but the difficulty 
was I did not see how I could get the means to do it. He said that 
under the circumstances unless I insisted, he would rather not 
examine me. I said to him that it was necessary that I should be 
examined, if I were fit to enter the profession, and if I were not he 
would soan show me wherein I was deficient, and if it would not 
trouble him too much I desired the examination. He said, "Very 
well," and began a series of questions upon the practice of the law. 
He supposed I had no knowledge of this, and thought he could 


easily convince me that I ought to have some. But the tuition that 
I had got from my friend, Judge Locke, was too much for him. 
That part of the law I knew better than some gentlemen who had 
been in practice for years. 

I remember that among the questions he asked was this : " If you 
had a deed to prove in court where both the maker and the subscrib- 
ing witness were dead, how would you prove it ? " 

I answered him at once: "By calling somebody who knew the 
handwriting of the subscribing witness and proving his hand- 

He said to me : " Why not prove the handwriting of the maker ?" 

"Because the subscribing witness," was my reply, "was called 
by the parties as a sort of attestor, and, therefore, we prove the 
signature of the subscribing witness and not the maker's." 

He continued that kind of examination which related to the prac- 
tice in courts, saying to me that that was a thing I should feel 
myself most in need of. This continued for a very long space of 
time, it seemed to me, but I suppose about the space of an hour. 

He then put me this question : " I see you have always been in 
court while I have been here holding session, apparently attending 
to the cases as they go on. Do you understand the proceedings ? " 

"I try to do so, sir, and I think I do understand some of them at 

"Well," he said, "we sat a little later than usual to-night, and 
I observed that you remained there until the case was finished." 

"Yes, sir." 

16 Will you state to me, in your own way, what that case was, 
and the points raised, and the ruling of the court?" 

I answered : " That case was a suit brought by the indorsee of a 
promissory note against the maker. The defence was that the maker 
was an infant, i. e., under twenty-one years of age, when he made 
it. The answer to that was that after he became twenty-one years 
of age, when it was presented to him he had promised to pay the 
note. The reply to that was that the promise was after the indorse- 
ment, and although the note was negotiable, it did not pass to the 

He said: "You have stated the case with correctness; I so 


"Yes," I said, "and directed a verdict for the defendant." I 
then looked up and said : " I thought your honor ruled incorrectly. " 

He, with a kind smile, said: "What reason, Mr. Butler, have you 
for that?" 

I said : " Because the note was negotiable when it was made, and 
remained so, and when the infant, when he became of age, promised 
to pay it, it then became a note precisely as it would have been if 
it had been made upon that day. The note was sued upon as a 
negotiable note, then made, and it was not the promise passed by 
the indorsement, but the note." 

"That view of the case was not put to me by the counsel." 

" I observed it was not, " said I, " and as it has been my habit 
to do, I went to my office to look for an authority which I thought 
I remembered. I found it, and the exact case has been decided, 
and upon the reasons I have given." 

" When you go back to your office, Mr. Butler, can you send me 
up that authority ? " 

"No, your honor; I am the youngest in that office, and I have 
nobody to send, but I can bring it to you if you desire." 

"You will do me a great favor if you will do so." 

I went home and hunted up the authority in the " English Com- 
mon Law Reports, " and put in a mark, and gave it to the clerk of 
the hotel to hand to the judge. 

I did not sleep much that night. I went into the court the next 
morning, and after some of the motions of course were passed 
upon, which was the habit in those days, the judge called the coun- 
sel who had tried the case the night before, and said to them : " Upon 
reflection, I think I made a mistake in the ruling I made last night, 
and as whichever way I rule I suppose the case will go up on excep- 
tions, it will make no difference which way I rule except to myself. 
If you will consent, I will reverse the decision and have the jury give 
the verdict for the plaintiff, no business having intervened since." 
The counsel seemed surprised, but consented. This comforting 
thought passed through my mind : " If you do not admit me now, 
judge, I will tell on you." That thought was an unworthy one. 
The next thing that he said was: "Mr. Clerk, Mr. Butler was 
examined by me for admission to the bar, and you can administer 
the oath and enter his name on the rolls. It is due him to say that 


the matter of my ruling came up in the course of his examination, 
and his suggestions led me to examine the matter further, and 
change my ruling." 

He was one of the few judges I have known who was big enough 
to do such a thing as that. From that day to the day of his death 
we were fast friends. If any one should desire to see the case, it 
will be found in the 1st Metcalf Mass. R., Reed vs. Batchelder, p. 
559, where the judge's later ruling was sustained by the Supreme 
Court. It may enliven any legal reader to tell that another young 
gentleman was examined for admission some little time after, and 
the morning following, he said to me : " The judge asked me a 
question last night which I do not know whether I answered right 
or not. He asked me what was an administrator de bonis non, and 
I told him it was an administrator where there was not any goods." 
I said, "I hope he won't reject you on account of that answer, 
because it is generally right in point of fact, even if wrong in point 
of law." 

During the autumn of 1840, I began my education in national 
politics, making my first speech in favor of Van Buren as against 
Harrison, who was so triumphantly elected. Harrison's election 
did me a great good, for, as my speeches did not change the result, 
I was for a time disgusted with politics and stuck to law, as I 
would advise every young man to do, until he has secured at least 
a competence, so as not to be obliged in after life to live upon 



N chronological order it might, perhaps, have been well 
to record here what there has been of interest during 
my legal career. For I have been engaged in the prac- 
tice of law with unabated devotion substantially to the 
hour of writing, save for some fifteen years, more or 
less, which were devoted to the public service. 

Upon reflection, however, it seems best that I should 
pass over for the present my legal experiences before as well as after 
my public services. These two periods include that portion of my 
life for whose pursuits I have had the greatest fondness, and I shall 
describe them in a continuous narrative later on. 

In the year 1839 I made the acquaintance of Fisher Ames Hil- 
dreth, the only son of Dr. Israel Hildreth, of Dracut, a town adjoin- 
ing Lowell on the north side of Merrimack River. That acquaintance 
ripened into an affectionate friendship which terminated only with 
his death thirty years afterwards. 

Dr. Hildreth had a family of seven children, six of them being 
daughters. The eldest, Rowena, was married in 1836 at a very 
early age to Mr. Henry Read, a merchant of Lowell. The two 
youngest children were then merely schoolgirls. Fisher invited me to 
the family gathering at the Thanksgiving feast of that year, and there 
I first met Sarah, the second daughter. I was very much impressed 
with her personal endowments, literary attainments, and brilliancy 
of mind. Dr. Hildreth was an exceedingly scholarly and literary 
man. He was a great admirer of the English poets, especially of 
Byron, BuVns, and Shakespeare, and had early taught the great poet's 
plays to his daughter, who, in consequence, developed a strong de- 
sire to go upon the stage. Her father approving of this, she appeared 




Mrs. Sarah Butler in 1839. 
Engraved from a Daguerreotype. 

with brilliant success at the Tremont 
Theatre in Boston and the Park 
Theatre in New York, her talents for 
delineation of character being fully 
acknowledged by all. She was taught 
her profession by Mrs. Vernon, 
a very accomplished tragedienne. 
Mrs. Vernon was assisted by Isaac C. 
Pray, Esq., himself a writer of plays, 
and it was in the leading part in 
one of Mr. Pray's dramas that Miss 
Hildreth first appeared upon the 
stage. When our acquaintance began 
I had never seen her on the stage, 
her home life bein^ sufficient to 
attract me. She declined to leave 
her profession, however, until I had 

"won my spurs " in my own profession, and had become provided 

with the means of making a home for both. But a most cordial and 

affectionate intimacy was maintained between us. In the spring of 

1843, 1 visited her at Cincinnati, Ohio, where she had been welcomed 

and honored as a star. There we became ensraeed. We were 

married on the 16th of May, 1844, 

at St. Anne's Church in Lowell, by 

the Rev. Dr. Edson, its Rector. 

We made our home at Lowell from 

that time until her very sad and un- 
timely death in 1 8 7 7. There were born 

to us four children : Paul, the eldest, 

who died in April, 1850, at the age of 

four years and ten months ; a daughter, 

Blanche, born in 1847, and a son, Paul, 

born in 1852, both still living; and 

a son, Ben Israel, born in 1854, who 

departed this life on the first day of 

September, 1881, the day he was to 

have gone into partnership with me in 

the practice of the law in Boston. 


Benj. F. Butler in 1839. 

Engraved from a Daguerreotype. 


Ben Israel was appointed to West Point when I was in Congress. 
I had already made three appointments, two of the young men 
failing to complete the course, and one, a colored lad, not being 
allowed to enter. The young cadet graduated with honor, and was 
directed by his father to accept a lieutenantcy in a regiment of col- 
ored troops which was stationed on the Plains, that he might have, 
in addition to his instruction at the academy, the knowledge of the 
movement and care of troops in actual service. In this onerous 
work of defending the scattered population on our frontier from 
Indian raids, he served one year. 

The reason for this selection was that I believed then, as I believe 
now, that this country is to have a war in each generation. Every 
preceding generation in this country had had its war, and in the 
most important of all his father had taken an active part. The 
colonies had, in 1758, the French and Indian War, the result of 
which was the taking of Quebec by Wolfe, and the destruction of 
the power of France on this continent. Zephaniah, my grandfather, 
was a soldier under Wolfe's command. There hangs before me, in 
my library, a powder-horn, such as was worn by every soldier of 
that day. On it is engraved with his own knife, " Zephaniah Butler 
his horn April ye 22, 1758." And Captain Zephaniah fought with 
Stark at Bennington. 

Then followed the Revolution, from 1775 to 1783, and one of my 
uncles was at Bunker Hill. The next generation saw the war of 
1812 with Great Britain. In this war, my father, John Butler, com- 
manded a company of light dragoons in the regular army. Next, in 
1830, were the Spanish wars in Florida and the Gulf States, wherein 
General Taylor and General Jackson — then captains — so distin- 
guished themselves. Next came the unpleasantness of 1861 to 1865, 
which, I think, in spite of the euphemism, might well be termed a 
war of our generation, and with which, it may be seen hereafter, I had 
somewhat to do. 

Therefore, believing that there could be no war in which a son of 
mine especially would not take a part in his generation, I had him 
educated at West Point, so that his efforts for his country might not 
be thwarted by the officers of the regular army because he was not 
of their nobility, and I required him to go into the field for a year, 
so that he might get some instruction as a volunteer. 



My family had no coat of arms, and I have been taunted with the 
fact by my political foes, some of whom pride themselves upon an 
ancestry which won distinction by amassing wealth from the sale of 
codfish and New England rum, — with 
which, in early colonial times, Africa was 
supposed to be Christianized. At such 
times I have been tempted to reply, since I 
had before me the swords of four genera- 
tions, each actually worn in the military 
service of the country, " 'Tis true my family 
has no coat of arms, but we have the arms." 

I planned that my son should become my 
partner in the profession of the law. I had 
seen that nearly all the generals in the 
War of the Rebellion who had been at 
West Point and had achieved success, had 
quitted the profession of arms at an early 
age, and I was desirous of giving my boy, 
who had been a soldier, every chance as a 
civilian. He studied his profession at the 
Columbia Law School in New York, and, 
after two years, was admitted to practice 
upon examination before the term of study 
was closed. I had hoped to lean upon him 
in my declining years, to take my place in 
that profession which I love and honor. 
44 Man proposes, but God disposes." 

My daughter married Major-General 
Adelbert Ames, who made his mark during 
the War of the Rebellion and in the recon- 
struction of the country, so that I have no 
need here to remark upon his history. They 
have six children. The eldest, Butler Ames, 
is now a student at West Point. So, God 
willing, one of the race will be in the next 
war to do honor to the blood of his father and the race of his mother. 

My son, Paul, chose business pursuits after he was graduated at 
Harvard. I sent him to Harvard, not because I deemed it the best 


Swords of Four Gener- 
ations in Glass Case, 
at Home of Gen. Butler 
at Lowell. 


school in the country, but because I could not foretell what might 
be his future, and I chose that lie should not be hindered, as his father 
had been, by the fact that he was not a graduate of Harvard. A 
class of Massachusetts people believe that a course at that college is 
indispensable to advancement in almost any pursuit in life, especially 
political ; and, as soon as a graduate obtains political preferment he 
is hailed as the " scholar in politics." 

My wife, with a devotion quite unparalleled, gave me her support 
by accompanying me, at my earnest wish, in every expedition in the 
War of the Rebellion, and made for me a home wherever I was 
stationed in command. She joined me at Annapolis and accompanied 
me to Fortress Monroe when I was assigned there in May, 1861. 
She went with me on the expedition to Ship Island for the attack 
upon New Orleans, wherein I was exposed to the greatest peril of 
my life ; and only when my ship was hourly expected to go to pieces, 
and when I importunately appealed to her good sense that our chil- 
dren must not be bereft of both parents, did she leave me to seek 
safety on board a gunboat. But of that more hereafter. 

She suffered great privations and hardships on the sands of Ship 
Island while we were awaiting the attack on New Orleans, and was 
on the first vessel containing troops that went up the river after the 
surrender of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. She went ashore with 
me and lodged at the St. Charles Hotel on the night after I took 
possession of the city of New Orleans. When in 1863 I was 
assigned to the command of the Department of Virginia and North 
Carolina, she accompanied me again to Fort Monroe. In 1864 she 
went with me to the field, and was present with me during most of 
the campaign of 1864. 

Thus I had an advantage over most of my brother commanding 
generals in the department and in the field, in having an adviser, 
faithful and true, clear-headed, conscientious and conservative, whose 
conclusions could always be trusted. In the mere military move- 
ments, although she took full note, she never interfered by sugges- 
tion, for in regard to them I relied upon the opinions of my valued, 
accomplished, and efficient staff officers. In other matters all that 
she agreed to was right and for the best ; and if there is anything 
in my administration of affairs that may be questioned, it is that in 
which I followed the bent of my own opinions. 


Lieut. Ben Iskael Butler. 

Son of Gen. Benj. F. Butler. 
From Oil Painting. 


Returning home with me, after I retired to civil and political life, 
Mrs. Butler remained the same good adviser, educating and guiding 
her children during their young lives with such skill and success 
that neither of them ever did an act which caused me serious sorrow, 
or gave me the least anxiety on their behalf. She made my home 
and family as happy as we could be. She took her place in society 
when at Washington, and maintained it with such grace, dignity, 
and loveliness of character that no one ever said an unkind or a dis- 
paraging word of her. 

From my earliest vote I became deeply interested in politics. 
By politics I do not mean such questions only as how far the Vir- 
ginia resolutions of '98 should be the guide of the future of this 
country, leaving its frame of government virtually a conglomeration 
of States by no means indissolubly bound together, each of which 
should conduct for itself every substantial function of government, 
as independent sovereignties united only for purposes of common 
defence in war and insurrection, having a general government with 
so little power of interference in any matter that affected the pros- 
perity of the Avhole country, except the postal service and the least 
degree possible of judicial control of legal questions by the Supreme 
Court, that as Jefferson proposed, the general government should be 
what he wished it named, " The Department of Foreign Affairs of the 
United States ; " or whether the doctrines of Hamilton should obtain, 
whose sagacity foresaw that the United States must, after it passed 
the period of its earliest youth, grow into a nation wherein the national 
authority could override and supersede all the powers of the States 
except so far as their domestic concerns were involved, into which 
theory and practice of government we are fast and inevitably drifting. 
The politics in which I very early took part was that practical politics 
which dealt with the condition and welfare of the citizen. 

From my earliest youth I had been taught to believe in democracy, 
of which Jefferson was the apostle ; and to abhor federalism, of which 
Hamilton was the exponent. While I had been dazzled with the 
brilliancy of Jackson's administration of national affairs, I early had 
sense enough to see that it conflicted, in a very considerable degree, 
with the teachings of Jefferson. 

I may as well state here as anywhere the conclusions to which I 
have been brought by a lifetime of the closest study and connection 


with national and State affairs and practical politics. This country 
is to continue certainly for years in accordance with the theories 
of Hamilton, whose great genius and clear reasoning formulated 
a system of government; while the philosophical lucubrations of 
Jefferson are the best instructions as to the mutual relations of its 
citizens in all conditions of life. 

In a word, the government of Hamilton, clothed with every 
necessary power and inhibited only from oppressing either the masses 
or the individual, should protect the rights and carry out the equality 
under the law of each and every citizen of the republic, if either should 
be limited or injuriously or fraudulently interfered with either by the 
permission or by the enactment of the governments of the States. 
Therefore I declare my political convictions to be these : — As to 
the powers and duties of the government of the United States, I am 
a Hamiltonian Federalist. As to the rights and privileges of the 
citizen, I am a Jeffersonian Democrat. I hold that the full and only 
end of government is to care for the people in their rights and lib- 
erties, and that they have the right and privilege to call on either 
the State, or the United States, or both, to protect them in equality 
of powers, equality of rights, equality of privileges, and equality of 
burdens under the law, by carefully and energetically enforced pro- 
visions of equal laws justly applicable to every citizen. 

I have deemed it my duty to myself and to my readers to state 
these, my conclusions, for they have tinged if not permeated every 
public aim of my life, and every private aim also, I hope. 

Coming to Lowell at the early age of less than a dozen years, when 
it was a small manufacturing town, I became a part of the beginning. 
But the town had grown so marvellously that in 1836 it had become 
the second city of New England, and the largest city in the country 
whose business was solely manufacturing. The people, women and 
children as well as men, were engaged in daily labor in mills 
whose machinery was driven by what was then the largest improved 
single water power in the country. This city had also a singular 
peculiarity regarding the conduct of its operations. All the capital 
employed^ with the exception of the merest trifle, was owned by non- 

The management of that capital was in the form of several large 
corporations, in each of which was a very considerable community of 



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,;[T;! ? '. ':r 

LX-'.-:! 1 


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i - *-#'■■■• -. 


Mks. Blanche Bcjtleb Ames. 
From a Photograph. 


stockholders. The business affairs of these productive establish- 
ments were carried on precisely alike. The bells of each rang their 
laborers in and out of the mills ; called them to arise in the morning 
and take their breakfast by candle light, save in the very longest days ; 
rang them to take their supper at half-past seven in the evening by 
such light as might be at that hour. An intermission of thirty 
minutes only was allowed for dinner. By means of carefully adjusted 
time-pieces all the bells struck as nearly in unison as was possible 
without the aid of electricity. 

Again, no laboring man or woman who had been employed by one 
corporation could be employed in any other in the city without a 
pass from the first. Thus the lack of this pass meant no work in 

These laboring people had been gathered here almost wholly from 
the several States in New England, with the single exception of some 
English and Scotch workmen skilled in the making of cotton and 
woollen goods. Being brought up with them I knew them to be of 
the best class of citizens — the sons and daughters of farmers in 
Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. No better 
body of citizens, no purer people, ever came together. 

To the credit of the owners of the mills, it is but just to say, 
humane, philanthropic, and far-sighted economic business regulations 
were made, and provisions were established that education should be 
furnished for the children, and the advantages of religious instruction 
given to all. Measures were also taken to provide for the morals of 
the operatives, and houses were built in which they might find the 
comforts of home at the cheapest possible rate. In each house was a 
matron in charge, and there was a regulation that the inmates should 
show cause if out later than ten o'clock in the evening. That was 
the hour at which the door-key was turned, the curfew being rung 
by all the bells together at nine o'clock. 

It will be observed that I have said these regulations were for 
economic reasons. The great men who founded Lowell knew that 
good morals were the prime qualification of good working people. 
Again they knew that the unit of the price of ordinary labor, other 
things being equal, was what a laborer could barely live upon and 
support his family. That rule has now become axiomatic : the cheaper 
a laborer can live, the cheaper he will work. Therefore the provision 


of the house where board could be had cheaply by the working man 
and woman, made them contented with the rate of wages. 

It is also to the credit of the founders of Lowell and those who 
have succeeded them even to this day, that provision was made that 
on a given Saturday in each month, every man, woman, and child 
should be paid the wages earned the preceding month, in cash, with- 
out any deduction or diminution. The only exception was that in 
the earliest years one corporation required thirty cents a month to 
be deducted for the support of religious worship. So well has this 
full and regular payment of wages been maintained that a really 
serious " strike " for higher wages has never occurred in Lowell , 
and, further, no worker in the corporate mills in Lowell has ever lost 
by non-payment a dollar of wages earned. 

When President Jackson visited Lowell in 1833, all the laboring 
men and women of the mills turned out to welcome and escort him. 
Every woman carried a parasol and was dressed in white muslin, 
with a blue sash, save the women of the Hamilton corporation, who 
wore black sashes in respect for the memory of their agent [manager] , 
who had just died. 

Afterwards, so strong was the feeling of American citizenship, 
that the several hundred operatives in the weaving rooms of the 
Hamilton mill struck and left the mill because the company had 
put into their room an Irish washerwoman to scrub the floor. They 
were native Americans and would not stand that. 

With such people I spent my boyhood and knew them well. I 
played with and went to school with their children ; I became 
acquainted with the use of tools in the shops, by the permission of the 
fathers ; I learned to reverence and admire women and men without 
regard to what the one wore and the other possessed. I knew all their 
wants ; knew their sicknesses and the causes thereof ; saw the deterio- 
ration in their bodily health from year to year as they grew pallid and 
nervous. I found that the mill life averaged about five years, — not 
that people lived no longer than five years who worked in the mills, 
but that as a rule that employment was compelled by necessity rather 
than by choice, and was quit as soon as the operatives could afford it. 
The girls came from the country to work in the mills to get a few 
hundred dollars to remove the mortgage on the home place ; the 
young men came for the same purpose, or to get the means of start- 


ing in some other business. Nobody came to Lowell in those days to 
become a resident operative as a life business. 

Fortunately, I became socially intimate with a very able and very 
accomplished physician of most conservative views in a neighboring 
town, who had no concern with the mills in Lowell or with their 
operatives, save when called as a doctor. He explained to me that 
the hours of labor, thirteen and a half hours a day for six days in 
the week, were too great a strain on the life-powers of the operatives. 
There was only thirty minutes' intermission in the fourteen hours 
to get a hurried meal, which could not be readily digested when 
the laborer was at work. Though for the most part the labor was 
not heavy, yet, being in connection with the running of machines, it 
required constant attention, so that whatever time there was the work 
could not be remitted. While this long day was not immediately 
destructive, explained the doctor, it certainly permitted the " survival 
of the fittest" only, and in the end deteriorated the physical strength 
of the whole population. 

Thus instructed and convinced, my first political action was an 
endeavor to procure from the legislature an enactment making ten hours 
a day's work in manufacturing employments. I gathered around me a 
few of like thought, and the struggle began. A more unpopular move- 
ment in the opinions of the mill managers and their principal workmen 
could not have been made. How and why one of the agents, who 
was my friend, visited me to remonstrate may be adverted to hereafter. 
The lips of the operatives were closed; for if they said "ten hours" 
loudly, or if some enemy reported that they attended secretly a ten-hour 
meeting, their days of working in the mills of Lowell were numbered. 

I am not denouncing this action on the part of the managers ; it 
was natural. They thought they were doing right ; the stockholders 
wanted large dividends, and they were having them. The mills 
were exceedingly profitable. They were the highest class of invest- 
ment in the State, and their surplus funds devoted to the enlargement 
of their properties were simply enormous. • 

The argument of the agents when some few of the more intelligent 
deigned to argue with me, was this : " How can the mills of Lowell 
running only ten hours compete with the mills of Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, and other States, where they run fourteen or fifteen 
hours ? " 


That my reply was not a sufficiently practical one is admitted, but 
I answered : " Let Massachusetts set the example of short hours ; 
her manufacturers are strong enough to do it, and the others will 
soon be brought in." 

The rejoinder was : "We cannot afford to do that." 

" Well, then, run ten hours, and run faster, and you will get all 
the best help even if you pay somewhat reduced wages." 

To this it was said : " We are paying as high wages as our 
neighbors in the other States, and we have a better class of men 
and women than they do because of our facilities for living. We 
cannot run faster." 

They were honest in this belief, but it was a mistake, as time has 
shown, because now quite all machines are speeded quicker, and in 
some instances, when a given machine runs slower, the same person 
attends more machines. 

" But you are using up in your business the health and lives of 
your operatives, and destroying their constitutions, an injury which 
they are transmitting to their children." 

" We do not admit that. But even if it were so, our operatives 
are at liberty to go away whenever they choose. They have the 
remedy in their own hands if they are being made sick." 

" But their necessities require them to work here, and you have a 
duty to your fellow-creatures." 

" Yes," the principal one of them said, "and one duty is to give 
the people as cheap calico as can be made." I have heard that same 
argument since in regard to tariff reform, or free trade, by those 
who claim superiority in party action because they claim to adapt 
conscience to politics. But I have never been convinced by it. 

The contention went on and I made many speeches at night in 
many parts of the State whenever I could find time to get away from 
my law business. Agitation went on. In the legislature, of course, 
the ten-hour men were beaten. The manufacturing newspapers 
exhausted their billingsgate upon me. There was no bad name that 
could be used that was not liberally bestowed ; but the leaven of 
right eventually "leavened the whole lump," and has finally pro- 
duced the bread of life for the working-men. 

I remained a pronounced and somewhat prominent member of the 
Democratic party. We ten-hour men introduced ten-hour resolutions 


into its platforms, and the philanthropic Free-Soil party which began 
to obtain hold in our State, adopted our ten-hour propositions before 
it nominated Van Buren in 1848. 

In 1849 came the first attempt for a coalition between the Free- 
Soilers and Democrats. It was for State purposes only, because we were 
at variance on national issues. The Democratic party held to the 
doctrine that the Constitution recognized slavery, and that nothing 
could be done towards its abolition except through an amendment 
to the Constitution ; while the proposition of the Free-Soil party, 
as enunciated by Mr. William Lloyd Garrison, one of its leaders at 
that time, was that "the Constitution was a covenant with hell 
and a league with death." 

The State had been under the control of the Whig party for more 
than thirty years, save that the Democrats had elected Marcus Mor- 
ton governor in 1839 and 1841, each time by a majority of one vote 
only, counted, I am proud to say, for the honor of the Whig party 
and of the State, by opposition returning boards. Reform had be- 
come very necessary because of the oppressive anti-labor legislation 
of the Whig party under the lead of the manufacturers. To bring 
about this reform a coalition of the Free-Soil and Democratic parties 
was attempted and partially carried out. 

I was very strongly in favor of it because I saw hope of ten- 
hour legislation ; and although a Democrat, I was ready to join 
with anybody who would ameliorate a quasi slavery in the North 
where the Constitution did not interfere. Although I stood with the 
Democracy I did not feel myself obliged by my party relations to go 
bounding over the graves of my fathers to catch a fugitive slave 
who was seeking Canada, when it was not made my duty by legal 
enactment. Fortunately I was not called upon to determine what I 
should do in that regard when obliged to act under the law. 

Owing to the opposition of a small wing of the party, known as 
u Hunker " Democrats, that coalition was unsuccessful. In 1849 the 
election showed, however, that it had capabilities of success in the 
near future if rightly managed. The foundation of these possibili- 
ties was that by our Constitution all elections were to be determined 
by a majority vote. If no candidate for governor obtained a majority, 
then the legislature elected the governor from one of the four can- 
didates receiving the largest vote. 


As to the senators, who were then elected by counties, upon failure 
of election by a majority, the legislature in convention filled the 
vacancy by election from the two having the highest number of votes. 
If a candidate for representative failed of an election on the second 
Monday of November, such vacancy might be filled by an election in 
his town to be held on the fourth Monday of November. Thus it will 
be seen that if the Free-Soilers and Democrats ran separate candidates 
for each office, their combined vote would be counted against the 
Whig candidate in every case to prevent his election. 

An understanding was arrived at between the leaders of the Free- 
Soil and Democratic parties, that, in counties where it was possible 
to elect a senator by joint ballot, both should nominate the same can- 
didate ; but where there were not large expectations of such a result, 
each party should nominate its own candidate. 

It will be seen that we had the pro-slavery or " Hunker" Demo- 
crats, who were our opponents, somewhat at a disadvantage, for if 
they ran their candidates for the several offices, their ballots would 
count against the Whig candidates. 

A further understanding between the Coalitionists was effected, 
that if we should carry out this programme and throw the election 
of all the State officers into the legislature, and then control the 
legislature, then the Free-Soilers should have all our joint ballots 
for a Free-Soil United States Senator for the six-year term ; and the 
Democrats should have all the ballots of the Free-Soilers for the 
Coalition Democratic candidates. This would give all the officers 
of the State, and all its power, into the hands of the Coalition Demo- 
crats, the United States Senator alone being the share of the Free- 

It so happened that there were two vacancies in the United States 
Senate, one for the full term of six years, and the other for the 
remainder of the term to be made vacant on the fourth of March, 
1851. These two senatorial terms were called in political parlance 
the "long eel " and "short eel," and the Coalition Democrats, in 
addition to 9 the State government, claimed the " short eel" and 
got it. 

I made another, a sort of personal coalition, as part of this arrange- 
ment, that as Lowell had ten representatives to be elected on one 
ticket, the ticket should be a joint one, half Free-Soilers and half 



Trom an Oil Painting. 


Democrats, but all pledged ten-hour men. There was some demur 
to this, but as the ten Lowell votes might become a necessity for 
carrying out the whole arrangement in the State if there were not 
more than ten majority in the House, I was enabled to force my ten- 
hour movement into the coalition. 

When these political understandings and arrangements became 
known, and politicians were aware that they had elements of suc- 
cess, the denunciations of them in the Whig press were terrific. 
Fear for the success of the scheme upset the ripe judgment and 
twisted the great legal learning of the Hon. Benjamin R. Curtis, 
afterwards Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United 
States, and one of the ablest and best of its members. Yet from 
his acquaintance with the Free-Soil coalition in Massachusetts he 
learned enough of the great principles of liberty and freedom, 
and of the right to equality of all men, to enable him to give a 
dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott case, against the whole Court, 
headed by Chief Justice Taney, — an opinion that will live and 
render Curtis famous long after those who gave the majority opinion 
have dropped into oblivion. 

Much as I admire that opinion, still, I think it was the second 
ablest effort of Curtis, the first, in my judgment, being Mr. Curtis' 
opening argument in defence of Andrew Johnson upon the trial of 
his impeachment. In that case, when Curtis had finished, although 
much else was said by many other counsel in behalf of his client, 
nothing more was said. 

Yet that great and good man was so far thrown off his balance by 
the horrors of the coalition, that he wrote and published an elaborate 
pamphlet solemnly arguing his opinion that our political understand- 
ings and arrangements to gain control of the State by voting for whom 
we pleased in the manner and form provided by the Constitution, was 
an indictable conspiracy at common law, and ought to be prosecuted 
as such. I think he lived to regret that opinion. 

If our arrangement was a conspiracy, we not only made it, but 
carried it out, and seized the government of Massachusetts. This 
should have been an offence against the United States, as we thereby 
elected two United States Senators ; but Judge Curtis never afterwards 
instructed the grand jury in the Circuit Court when he sat as judge 
that an indictment for that great crime ought to be found. 


The leaders of the Whig party were very much alarmed. A most 
exciting canvass was prosecuted with the greatest vigor. Luckily 
for us the coalition was composed very largely of young men, 
among them plenty of able and vigorous debaters, full of youth, 
energy, and strength, such as Burlingame, Banks, Rantoul, and 
others, who afterwards made themselves famous. 

The election came off with very curious results. So far as Lowell 
was concerned the hope for our success gave courage to the opera- 
tives in the mills, for we promised them protection from any unlaw- 
ful acts against themselves. In consequence nine out of ten of the 
Lowell candidates for representative, Coalitionists and ten-hour men, 
were elected by a respectable majority, the tenth man being an Irish 
gentleman who failed to receive some native American votes. 
These candidates were elected against the most vigorous opposition, 
not only of the managers in Lowell, but of the whole Whig party of 
the State ; for upon us, as it afterwards turned out, the politics of 
the State hinged. The governor and lieutenant-governor were not 
elected. Less than one third of the senators were elected, but 
those elected were substantially all of Coalitionist persuasion. 
There were vacancies for representatives in a large number of towns, 
and a considerable number had voted not to send any, as a means of 
avoiding another election to fill the vacancy on the fourth Monday 
of November. Upon a careful examination of the returns and of the 
probable number of representatives who would be elected on that 
day, it was quite apparent that the nine ten-hour representatives from 
Lowell would give the coalition a majority of the legislature and 
the State government to the Democracy, because, by their vote in 
joint legislative convention, the vacancies in the Senate would be 
filled by Coalitionists, and that would establish such a majority 
in convention with the House that the governor would be elected, 
and he would have the appointment of all the principal State officers. 
Therefore the pressure upon the towns which had failed to elect 
representatives became very heavy, but in most of those the Coali- 
tionists were able to return blow for blow. 

Something must be done to change the result in Lowell. What 
should it be ? A ward clerk had made a return to the Lowell board 
of aldermen stating that the whole number of votes in that ward 
was eight thousand. It was, in fact, eight hundred, but he multiplied 


the eight hundred votes received by each representative by ten, 
although they were all voted for on the same ticket, and thus made 
a blunder. 

The mayor and board of aldermen were all Whigs, and half of 
them overseers in the mills. The ward officer offered to amend his 
return according to the facts. The aldermen refused to receive the 
amended return, but declared that counting eight thousand votes 
thrown in Ward Four where there were but eight hundred, destroyed 
the majority of votes by which the nine representatives were elected. 
They declared that their election was accordingly void, and ordered 
a new election of representatives on the fourth Monday. This elec- 
tion, if the Whigs should carry it, would give the State to that party, 
and destroy the hopes of the ten-hour men. 

This decision was reached some five days after the first election, 
and of course some eight or nine days before the following election. 
Again the ten-hour men rallied to their standard. The Coalitionists 
proposed to do all they could to help us. 

On Monday preceding the second election a placard was posted 
just before dinner on the outside gate of the Hamilton corporation, 
which employed a very large number of men, and where the ten-hour 
feeling was very pronounced. This placard was substantially in the 
words following' : — 



Whoever, employed by this corporation, votes the Ben Butler 
ten-hour ticket on Monday next, will be discharged. 

That evening a meeting of the Democratic and Coalition City 
Committees was called. Consternation had seized them. They said 
it was all up with our hopes of carrying the election. Our men 
would never dare to vote under that notice, so that it was no use to 
do any more about it. The prevailing opinion was that our only 
chance would be to have nothing said about this notice. Some of 
our committee themselves were workmen in the mills. They said 
they could do nothing more ; one or two on other corporations were 
already marked for discharge, they understood, as soon as the election 
was over. 

One or two were contractors with the corporations for building, 
and both said it would destroy their business as they would get no 


more contracts. The general opinion of the members of the com- 
mittee was that nothing more could be or ought to be done. One 
contractor who had been elected on our ticket in the first election 
resigned from the ticket. Only one prominent man, and he was not 
engaged with the corporations, united with Mr. Hildreth and myself 
in the opinion that something should be done. I addressed the com- 
mittee and said : " Very well, then ; without instruction from you, I 
suppose, or without your interfering with what I do, I may do what 
I please in regard to this election as the leader of the ten-hour men." 
Most of them were very glad to be relieved from responsibility, and 
all said u Yes." I said : " Very well, then ; I will have issued the 
following hand-bill : 

To the working-men of Lowell : The following notice has been j;>ut 
up on the gate of the Hamilton corporation : 


Whoever, employed by this corporation, votes the Ben Butler 
ten-hour ticket on Monday next, will be discharged. 

The working-men of Lowell will have a meeting [we had previously 
engaged the City Hall for a meeting on that evening] at the City Hall on 
Wednesday evening, at eight o'clock, to hear an address by COL. B. F. 
BUTLER upon the subject of this notice, and advice upon the question of 
what shall be done by the working-men and friends of the ten-hour law 
in view of this notice, in the coming election. 

Per Order. 

No man could be found to sign this call. I said : " Very well ; 
leave it blank ; the men will come." Accordingly everywhere in 
Lowell that handbill was circulated. 

Many applied to me to know what I should advise to be done. I 
said I should tell the meeting what I should do and what I thought 
should be done ; I had not fully made up my mind, but hoped that 
the good God would deal with me as He promised to do with His 
apostles : "In that day and that hour it shall be given ye what ye 
shall speak." 

To say tliat the citizens were in a ferment, and especially the work- 
ing-men, would be a very tame expression. 

About half-past seven in the evening I was called upon by the 
manager of one of the corporations, who desired to know what my 


course would be. I answered him as I had answered the others. He 
insisted upon talking with me, and I got away from him just in time, 
by hurrying, to get to the meeting. I found the hall filled almost to 
suffocation. The stairs leading to it were crowded, and to get me in 
my good working friends — I was a lighter weight than now — picked 
me up and rolled me over their heads to the stand, where I found my- 
self in a somewhat disordered state of apparel. Settling myself as 
well as I could, I turned to the assembly. It was perfectly quiet, 
more so than any public meeting I have ever since looked upon. I 
observed carefully their countenances and was confirmed in my course. 
I looked around for the leading men of whom we make presidents, 
vice-presidents, and secretaries, but they were not there. It was evi- 
dently my meeting or nobody's. 

Casting my eye into a corner of the hall and seeing a clergyman 
there, an earnest, honest, and pious man, who did not preach in any 
of the fashionable churches in the city, but who had a large congre- 
gation in his own town, I stepped to the desk at the front of the 
platform, on which there was nobody but myself, and said : " I see 

the Reverend Mr. present with us," calling him by name. " As 

it has been the custom of our fathers in great emergencies and on 
solemn occasions to call for the Divine grace and protection in what 
they should do, I take the liberty to ask the reverend gentleman to 
address the throne of grace." And bringing my pencil down with a 
heavy tap on the desk, I called out : " Let every head be uncovered ; " 
and every hat came off. The clergyman with some difficulty reached 
the platform, and theri made a very fervent and impassioned prayer, 
filled with appropriate appeals to Almighty Providence to guide and 
assist His children in the hour of their direst need. 

When he had concluded his prayer I handed my chair to him and 
stepped forward. Not a hat was put on. I began very calmly, and 
in low but distinct tones, substantially the following address, which 
I believe I shall never forget : — 

" Our fathers fought the battles of the Revolution, braving the 
perils of war with the British Empire to establish one very important 
and essential privilege to this people, viz., the right to govern them- 
selves by electing to their legislatures, by votes cast in an orderly 
and quiet manner according to the laws, men to represent them and 
their interests such as they shall deem proper. If under our 


republican form of government established by our patriot fathers 
the people of this country, acting under and in accordance with the 
laws, cannot govern themselves by their votes cast according to their 
consciences, then the Revolution was a failure. If the working-men 
can be deprived of their freedom and rights by threats of starvation 
of themselves and their wives and children, when they act according 
to the laws and their own judgments, then they had better be slaves 
indeed, having kind masters, instead of being free men who are only 
at liberty to do what their task-masters impose upon them, or starve. 
And this question must be settled here and now. 

" In obedience to the laws, at the time specified at which it should 
be done, the working-men of Lowell assembled at their several 
election places and cast their ballots for ten men whom they wanted 
to represent their interests pledged to the reduction of the oppressive 
hours of labor, the length of which is destroying their own health and 
the health of their wives and children. Their votes were in a majority 
for nine of their representatives. 

" That majority is known to all and acknowledged by all. By 
a stupid blunder, however, a clerk returned eight thousand votes 
cast where there were but eight hundred voters. The aldermen of 
the city, taking advantage of that blunder, refused to permit him 
to amend his return according to the fact, which was never done 
before by any honest body, and exercised their power to declare the 
election void ; they thus deprive the working-men of Lowell of any 
representation in the coming legislature, unless they can elect some 
others on Monday to represent them. On that election depends the 
whole politics of the State ; and therefore the whole power and 
wealth of corporate influence in the State has been brought to bear 
upon those weak men, the aldermen, to do us this great wrong. 

" What have we done ? So great wrong and outrage would justify 
revolution ; it would justify us in any proceeding to recover our 
liberties ; for we have done no wrong. We said nothing ; we only 
determined in our own minds that we would go to the polls and vote 
as we had done before, unless we saw a good reason, or heard arguments 
sufficient, tb change our opinions. The Whig party, which owns the 
ward clerk and controls these aldermen, has called no meeting to 
address to us any argument or reason why we should change our 
minds. But what has it done ? One of the corporations where large 


numbers of workmen are employed, and get small enough wages for 
good work, has, as the representative of all the corporations, addressed 
the laboring men of Lowell in these words : 


Whoever, employed by this corporation, votes the Ben Butler 
ten-hour ticket on Monday next, will be discharged. 

" They do me honor overmuch in calling the ticket my ticket. If 
they had left that out I should have doubted my right to address 
this meeting of working-men upon this subject ; but thus being called 
upon to do it, I am here to serve you and to save you from bondage. 

" You have shown yourselves to be the party of law and order, 
seeking to do everything according to the law and not otherwise, 
and now you are told that if you exercise your rights as free men in 
the manner your Constitution points out, you are not only not to be 
permitted to enjoy any of the divine blessings which the reverend 
clergyman has invoked upon your heads, but you are not even to be 
permitted to suffer in freedom and peace the primeval curse of the 
Almighty, — 4 By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.' 
You gave up God's blessings long ago when you were obliged to 
work for these tyrants, but you could not see your children starve, 
and therefore you submitted to the punishment of His curse and 
as^ed by the sweat of your face to eat your bread. Now even this is 
to be taken from you unless you vote as your masters permit you to 
do, and thereby become their slaves. This is an unlawful threat to 
use unlawful force upon you, for it takes away your right to govern 
yourselves according to your consciences. You have only complied 
with the law ; they have resorted to force. They avow an intention 
to oppress you ; you have only shown an intention to assert your 
rights in a lawful manner." 

Up to this time I had spoken in an almost conversational tone, 
because a whisper would have been heard in that great assembly, so 
silent it was. I went on : — 

" I know the power of these corporations. I know many of the 
men who have been in charge. They have made a mistake in the 
appeal to force. When that weapon is tried, they are weak and you 
are strong. They have their mills and machinery, their bricks and 
their mortar, and that is the extent of their power.*' 


And then my voice rang out as it can do on occasion : — " You are 
stronger than they. You have your right arms and your torches, 
and by them we will blot out this accursed outrage. 

" As God lives and I live, by the living Jehovah ! if one man is 
driven from his employment by these men because of his vote, I 
will lead you to make Lowell what it was twenty-five years ago, — a 
sheep-pasture and a fishing-place ; and I will commence by applying 
the torch to my own house. Let them come on. As we are not the 
aggressors, we seek not this awful contest." 

The effect was marvellous. A yell broke out like the agonized 
groan of wild animals when they feel the deadly knife at their 
throats. Some cried out, " Let us do it now," and applause broke 
out all over the hall and continued some time. 

I waved my hand for silence, which was given with a hush : I 
shouted, "Oh, not now; not now! Let us do all things decently 
and in order. We are men of peace under the law. Perhaps this 
notice is the act of some unauthorized, superserviceable agent of 
theirs, some over-zealous underling, — and the heads of the corpora- 
tions have not ordered it and really don't mean it, although I have 
heard of no withdrawal of it. 

" We cannot vote Monday under such a threat. We will vote as 
free men and not as slaves. We have given them here and now 
notice of our solemn determination ; let them take up the gauntjet 
we throw down if they dare ! We must vote next Monday as free 
men or we don't vote at all : no election will be held. They shall 
have Thursday and Friday in which to adopt or repudiate this threat 
of theirs to the working-men of Lowell. 

" Let us wait and see what they mean to do, and we will notify 
them that this meeting stands adjourned to meet here again at eight 
o'clock on Saturday evening to hear their answer, and then we have 
the Sabbath before us in which to act, and 6 the better the day the 
better the deed.' Now, let us all go quietly home. Don't do any- 
thing or say anything that will give our enemies any hold upon us. 
I know as a lawyer where I stand in saying what I have said, and I 
desire in this matter that you will carefully follow my advice. If 
we must come to blows, it must be upon their invitation. 

" I do not think they will call upon the militia of Lowell to sup- 
press us, for you are the militia and I am its commander. Now, let 


us adjourn and go home, and come here on Saturday night ; and, as 
that may be the most important meeting of our lives, let us all be 
here and our friends with us : I don't think we shall see any of our 

At that moment somebody called out : " There was a Whig meeting 
notified this afternoon to be held here Saturday evening." 

" Very well, we give them notice that the working-men of Lowell 
want their hall on Saturday evening, and we give them further 
notice that the windows are wide, and that we don't want to be 
disturbed in our meeting, and anybody who comes here to disturb us 
will find out how wide the windows are. Now, unless something 
further is suggested, this meeting will stand adjourned until Saturday 
evening at eight o'clock at this place." 

The meeting did adjourn, in a state of most intense excitement 
that broke out when the people got into the streets. It was not 
shown by any disorder, but by the most determined expressions of 
what ought to be done, so that I began to fear that I might not be 
able to control the storm that I had raised. Knots of men gathered 
at the corners of the streets all over the city discussing the matter. 
I spent two or three hours visiting these groups, encouraging and 
advising them that all would go well if they stood firm and orderly ; 
and so the night passed off in quietness. 

This meeting was understood to be wholly my own ten-hour affair. 
Neither the Democratic party nor the Free-Soil party made any public 
sanction of what I had done. The corporations were apparently as 
averse to having my speech published as the Coalition committee 
were to have notice of threats to turn off working-men known. On 
the next day the corporation organ came out with a 3tatement repu- 
diating this notice, and declaring that there was no such purpose on 
the part of the corporations. 

To ascertain if the notice was fully and thoroughly repudiated, Mr. 
Linus Child, who was at the head of the Boot corporation, was waited 
upon by two members of the city committee, one of whom had been 
elected to the legislature at the first election. They asked Mr. 
Child what would be the action of the corporations regarding the 
men who should vote the ten-hour ticket, and they made oath that 
he answered them in the following language : " The men who vote 
the Coalition ten-hour ticket will not be employed by our company." 


He further stated that this was the determination of all the corpora- 
tions in the city. Not a word was said as to discharging anybody for 
voting. This interview was published broadcast and never denied. 

One of the two committee-men referred to was apparently so well 
satisfied that the influence of the corporations would be potent to 
carry the election, that he resigned his candidacy for representative. 
Against my wishes, but in order to emphasize the fact that the issue 
was on the ten-hour law and must be fought out, I was nominated to 
fill his place. Of course I was not elected, all the " Hunker " Demo- 
crats cutting my name, — and there were about one hundred of them. 

The ten-hour meeting which stood adjourned till the Saturday 
before election was held at City Hall on that day. As the threats to 
discharge men for voting as they chose had been wholly withdrawn 
by the managers of the corporations, and as the objectionable notice 
had been destroyed, ten-hour questions were there discussed only on 
their merits ; and there was no interruption or disturbance. 

The Whigs, however, held a meeting on Saturday evening in the 
train-house at the Merrimac Street station. As a large number of 
ten-hour men were Irishmen, one William S. Robinson, of Brooklyn, 
an Irish orator, was hired to address the working-men. He spoke 
from a platform car standing on the track. That meeting was 
slightly rebellious. His listeners gathered round the upper end of 
the car, and, leaning heavily upon it, moved it gently down the 
track, out of the depot and into the darkness. Although invited, I 
had declined to attend that meeting. 

The election was held. Five Coalitionists and one Whig were 
elected ; and the elections in the other towns of the State gave the 
Coalitionists a fair working majority in both House and Senate. We 
in Lowell, however, determined that the stamp of reprobation should 
be put upon the action of the mayor and aldermen in falsifying the 
returns, and giving certificates to those members apparently elected at 
the second election. So, upon the meeting of the legislature, when 
the representatives elected at the second election had taken their 
seats, we presented the claims to seats of our list of representatives 
elected at "the first election, and their seats were given to them 
almost without opposition. 

At the next session of the grand jury I had the action of the 
mayor and aldermen presented, and they were indicted. Upon the 


trial, however, in the Court of Common Pleas, a Whig judge ruled 
that what they had done was not an indictable offence, and took the 
case from the jury. 

In such a contest as I have described, the continuity of which I 
have not cared to break by giving unimportant incidents, it may well 
be believed that I did not escape unscathed although I came out 
uninjured. For weeks the opposition newspaper of Lowell said 
everything of me that could be devised by the vilest and most 
unprincipled editor who was ever allowed to besmirch with printer's 
ink the columns of what had been a clean newspaper. As to the 
contumely heaped upon me, I could give examples, which, if they were 
not quotations, would hardly be credited. To show the accusations 
made against me, as well as the character and importance of the contest, 
I give some extracts from the Lowell Courier. The first was published 
November 11, 1851, the morning after the first election: — 

The entire vote of the city is a tremendous one, being 3,964 for 
Governor, there being only about fifty who were not at the polls. The 
Whig vote is increased one hundred and fifty over last year. The 
Free-Soil vote has fallen off and the Democratic has largely increased. 
This increase is attributable to the ten-hour ticket, and Boutwell may 
thank this and nothing else for his increased vote. 

This shows that the result of the election depended on the ten-hour 
ticket. I purposely omit that which cannot be put here, if this book 
is to be read by decent people, but one specimen may do : — 

[Lowell Courier, November 19, 1851.] 

Errata : Yesterday the compositors made the Courier say, " By the 
use of gloves well scented with cologne, or some disinfectant, and a 
pair of tongues, it may become a duty to handle such a putrid carcass 
as that labelled B. F. Butler." Of course for "pair of tongues" 
read " pair of tongs." 

The next extract will be instructive, as a report of my speech : — . 
[Lowell Courier, November 19, 1851.] 


That B. F. Butler has publicly declared that his great object is to 
depreciate the stock of the corporations in this city ; that to do this 
he is willing to see the city sunk in ruins, and when he has got them 


depreciated he will find loco foco purchasers enough. Remember 
these words of the demagogue. He may possibly plead that he was 
drunk when he made the declaration, but these are the miscreant's 
words. Mark him. 

Again, this was published on the morning of the day of the second 
election : — 

[Lowell Courier, November 20, 1851.] 


That the infamous arch demagogue, B. F. Butler, has publicly 
boasted that his object is to break down the corporations, to reduce 
the value of their stock to twenty-five or thirty cents on the dollar 
in order that by the depreciation the Democrats might buy it up, 
employ Democratic agents, and have good Democratic times. Let all 
who have at heart the welfare of the city and its working-men 
remember this at the polls. 

Other publications I brought to the attention of the same grand 
jury that indicted the aldermen, and they found indictments against 
both the publisher and the editor. The publisher was tried before 
the same Whig judge and convicted, but when the editor came to be 
tried upon an article reading as follows : — 

Jfig^BEN BUTLER-.^^lf 

This notorious demagogue and political scoundrel, having swilled 
three or four extra glasses of liquor, spread himself at whole length 
in the City Hall last night. . . . The only wonder is that a charac- 
ter so foolish, so grovelling and obscene, can for a moment be 
admitted into decent society anywhere out of the pale of prostitutes 
and ddbauche*s. 

the judge charged the jury that the government was bound to 
prove beyond a doubt that the article was intended for Benjamin F. 
Butler. He said : " You must try it upon the evidence before you. 
It is not sufficient to read the article. If the name that is given to 
it corresponds, that is sufficient. The article is headed ' Ben Butler,' 
and this is the only proof I have heard that it applied to Benjamin F. 
Butler. If this is sufficient by its application to the complainant, the 
defendant must be found guilty. I am at a loss to see that there is 
any evidence upon this point to make it sufficient. There is nothing 


except the article itself to prove to whom it applies. The burden 
is upon the government and you must not conjecture anything." 

Of course the jury found, after considerable deliberation, a verdict 
of not guilty, on the ground that the article did not refer to me at all, 
when everybody in the courthouse knew that it did. 

I believe I have one characteristic, and that is of paying my debts. 
I have fully done so, I think, in this case. This particular judge, 
while attorney-general under President Grant, got himself nomi- 
nated to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, but I caused 
him to be rejected by the Senate ; and when in 1876 he offered him- 
self as a candidate for Congress against me, I published an open 
letter describing him so exactly, both morally and politically, that 
there could be no doubt of his identity (nor was the description 
libellous), and I beat him so that all the votes he got would be 
hardly sufficient for mile-stones in our district. 

I am induced to put on record these villanous newspaper attacks 
upon me, in order to show, by example, to the young and ambitious 
men who may read this book, that undeserved newspaper abuse, how- 
ever vile, will never ultimately harm a man who lives an honest, 
proper, and independent life. 

Of course it was impossible to carry through the legislature a bill 
restricting labor to ten hours instead of fourteen. But great strides 
were made in favor of the proposition, and after unsuccessful efforts 
in several succeeding legislatures, a compromise was effected, and it 
was made the law that eleven and a quarter hours a day should be 
the limit of a day's work in the manufacturing establishments of 
Massachusetts ; this law was vigorously enforced until a considerable 
time after the war, and the shortening of time was a very great relief 
to the toilers. 

I had always insisted that as much work could be done in ten 
hours, even in attending machinery, as in eleven and a quarter. 
Afterwards, when I came to have a controlling interest in certain 
manufacturing establishments in Lowell, I put in effect a ten-hour 
rule, and never allowed a man, woman, or child to work more than 
ten hours except in time of pressure of business. At such time 
they were given pay for every extra hour they worked, and it was 
left wholly optional with them whether they should or should not 
work the extra hours. 



In 1852 I was elected to the legislature. While there I endeav- 
ored to remedy a great wrong and outrage which had been done to a 
Catholic educational institution of the order of St. Ursula. This 
order was established in 1536, to give relief to the sick, and educate gra- 
tuitously female youth, and the merits of its work were so great that 
it escaped even in Europe the persecutions which there frequently 
visited monastic institutions. 

Quite latterly the object of this mission was confined to the educa- 
tion of female youth, and its convents were established in America as 
seminaries of learning. In 1820 such an institution was founded in 
Boston, and six years later was removed to Mount Benedict, a twin 

' ffi&fctti.^\'-> ****"**'■•''' '-^ ■ ""*'"'." ■•■•''■'"'*" '' > " "~ '1^-L^J==^< * _ ' ' ' *, 




Kuins of Ursuline Convent, at Charlestown, Mass. 

From an Old-time Sketch. 

hill with Bunker Hill in Charlestown. Mount Benedict was a beau- 
tiful eminence, with a varied and most delightful prospect reaching 
miles on every side, and it was surrounded by a community supposed 
to be as intelligent and orderly as any people. 

The pupils of these Ursuline sisters came for the most part from 
the higher and wealthier Protestant families of the State. The 
academy flourished for several years, and at the time of its destruc- 
tion its inmates numbered about ten nuns and forty-seven young lady 
pupils of tender years. 

Among the illiterate and prejudiced adherents of some of the re- 
ligious sects, there were circulated concerning the institution stories 


so vile and absurd as not to be credited for a moment by any intelli- 
gent person. The pupils and their parents knew these stories to be 
Utterly false and unfounded. 

A young woman who had sought admission to the convent as a 
matter of charity, ran away, while passing through her novitiate, say- 
ing to her friends that the labors were too hard and the religious observ- 
ances too exacting, and that therefore she had concluded to leave. 
At first she said nothing against any of the inmates of the establish- 
ment, and spoke only of their strict discipline as religious teachers. 
She was immediately surrounded by sympathizers, and, as the body 
of her listeners grew in numbers, her stories increased in denuncia- 
tion of the institution. At last she was induced by some clergymen 
to publish a brochure, called " Six Months in a Convent." 

The superior of the school unwisely permitted herself to reply to 
it. That evoked a rejoinder filled with the vilest and uncleanest of 
accusations. It purported to be written by the young woman, under 
the sobriquet of " Maria Monk." This pamphlet, for it was little 
more than that, had a large circulation among a certain class of people 
in that vicinity. 

On the flats below Mount Benedict, and not far from it, there were 
extensive brickyards where large numbers of men, mainly from the 
State of New Hampshire, were employed during the. summer, return- 
ing to their homes to spend the winter. Coming from a State where, 
from the earliest days, no Catholic was permitted to hold any office 
by its constitution, and whose traditions run back to the Catholic 
persecutions of the Irish Presbyterians in the north of Ireland, they 
were ready, through prejudice, to welcome this " Maria Monk " 
pamphlet, and take it home with them for winter reading. They 
came back to their employment at the brickyards in the spring, with 
their prejudices and passions inflamed against the convent, the sup- 
posed misdemeanors in which had formed the largest portion of the 
family winter-evening discussions. 

The result was that, in August, 1834, combinations were formed 
among these men and their comrades to interfere with and harass the 
inmates of the school. The first open attack was made by setting 
dogs upon two of the female pupils who were walking in the grounds. 
This was reported to the authorities, but no redress was given. 
Divers outrages were perpetrated, and the selectmen of the town 


were called upon to examine the school. They made the examina- 
tion. They found nothing to report derogatory to its character, and 
so made no report. 

Early in the evening of the 18th of August, 1834, these brick- 
makers assembled near the convent. They were joined by others of 
like class. Other men began to arrive in their carriages and stop and 
form a part of the crowd around the school grounds. Some came 
from quite a distance. It was well known in the vicinity that some- 
thing was to happen to the convent on that night. The writer 
learned of it at Lowell, twenty-five miles away, and, in company 
with other young men, ascended Fort Hill, the highest eminence in 
Lowell, whence Mount Benedict could be easily seen with a glass, 
and whence the fire of the convent, between nine and ten o'clock 
that night, was very plainly visible. 

A bonfire was built about nine o'clock in front of the grounds. 
Soon after, the rioters broke into the buildings and drove out the 
ladies, forcing them to take refuge in the tomb. Then, first setting 
fire to the bishop's lodge, they burned the whole establishment, not a 
drop of water from the fire department reaching the place. This 
was so quickly accomplished, and there was such lack of information 
in Boston as to what was to be done by the rioters, that no general 
alarm was called. On the following day, a meeting in Faneuil 
Hall, attended by the best people of Boston, denounced the outrages, 
and the utmost indignation was expressed at the horrible event. 
The firmness, moderation, and full control which Bishop Fen wick had 
of the Catholic citizens of Boston prevented retaliation, the conse- 
quences of which might have been awful. 

The Catholic Church, which owned the property, permitted the 
blackened ruins to be left standing as they were, refusing all offers 
of purchase of the site ; and it. was first encroached upon under the 
right of eminent domain by taking part of it for a street. All in 
vain were the efforts of the officers of justice of the county of Mid- 
dlesex to bring to justice the offenders who committed this monstrous 
arson. John R. Buzzell, a brickmaker, who led the riot, and who 
confessed 'that he had done so, was tried and acquitted. A boy of 
seventeen, Marvin Marcy, Jr., who had been drawn into the affair 
purely for love of mischief, was alone convicted, and he was set 
at liberty at the expiration of seven months. Arson in the night- 


time was then punishable by death. No man doubts that there 
never was a more outrageous transaction, or one more disgraceful to 
a Massachusetts community, or one that caused a greater libel upon 
its justice. 

At that time the laws of Massachusetts contained no provision 
which made the town or community pecuniarily responsible to the 
losers by such riotous acts. The owners of the school appealed to 
the legislature for redress, claiming that they were entitled to it 
because their loss was suffered by the supineness of the constituted 
authorities. The legislature, however, refused to pass any bill for 
the relief of the sufferers; but in 1839, five years afterwards, they 
did pass a bill by which such losses could be compensated in 
the future, being driven to the enactment by the justice of this claim. 
That act provided that when any town suffered such an outrage to 
be committed thereafter, it should be liable for three-quarters of the 
value of the property destroyed. But they forgot to pass a bill giv- 
ing three-quarters of the value to the sufferers by the convent fire, 
and left the poor young lady pupils to pocket the loss of their 

At the age of thirty-four I found myself for the first time a mem- 
ber of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, with the 
memory of the sight of those flames still vivid. The thoughts that 
clustered around that memory were intensified by the feeling that 
great disgrace had attached to Massachusetts, because no reparation 
therefor had been made. The legislature was in the hands of a new 
party of young men, composed of the democracy and those whose 
sense of great injustice to the slaves had caused them to break away 
from the Whig party, which had controlled the legislature quite 
wholly since the burning was done. Animated with hope of jus- 
tice at their hands, and without consultation with anybody, I caused 
the subject to be brought before the legislature, argued it before the 
committee, and had a bill for the relief of the injured parties 
reported. After full discussion it passed the House, on a Friday, as 
I remember, and went to the Senate for its action. I have never 
doubted that, if I had been fortunate enough to have had my bill 
pass on Tuesday, it would have been sustained by the Senate on 
Wednesday or Thursday. But virulent religious clamor was raised, 
and on Sunday a goodly number of clergymen — such as afterwards 


so severely criticised my Fast-Day proclamation as governor — 
preached sectarian discourses against the bill of relief, and it failed 
in the Senate, never to my knowledge to be since revived. I think 
I am doing right in recalling these transactions, because it illustrates 
an unhappy condition of mind which has ever led me to be with the 
under dog in the fight when I thought he had been wronged ; and 
therefore I have been so often unsuccessful in my action. 

The Coalition party obtained ascendancy in the legislature 
elected in 1851, because in 1850 we had passed an act " For the 
Conduct of Elections," always known by the name of the " Secret 
Ballot Law." I bring it to attention now because I desire that if 
anybody reads this book who is interested in the question how an 
election can be best conducted, he will turn to the provisions of that 
law. All but one section of it remained on the statute book up to the 
time when Massachusetts was instructed in voting by the English penal 
convict colony, Australia. I think our citizens must have known all 
that people did about elections by ballot, for they have used it for more 
than three hundred years in their elections. Prior to that a kernel 
of corn meant yea, and a bean nay, so that we have a saying still in 
general use that applies to a man who doesn't exactly know his 
opponents, in the phrase, " He doesn't know [his] beans." 

Our secret ballot of forty years ago was an economical, certain, 
accurate, and perfectly practicable system of voting, by which all 
frauds could be detected, and all undue influence upon the voters 
avoided. The system was this : — The State supplied for use of the 
voters envelopes capable of being readily sealed, of uniform size and 
texture, stamped with the State arms, and no ballot could be 
deposited by the voter except one enclosed in such sealed envelope. 
If more than one vote for the same officer, or no vote, was found 
therein, there was no vote to be counted ; but the envelopes were 
kept as a tally with the check list. His ballot might be prepared by 
the voter anywhere, even in the family circle. 

The elections of 1851 and 1852, upon the question of a ten-hour 
law, were carried by means of this ballot against the combined 
influence of all the corporations in the State. No accusation of 
fraud was ever made because of the use of it. The only objection 
ever stated against it was that the employer might take his workman 
to the polls, give him a sealed envelope containing his ballot, and see 


that he put the envelope in the box. That was undertaken in 
Lowell, but the attempt thus to control his vote was as easily met by 
the voter. He brought his envelope with him and changed 
envelopes, voting the one he had brought and keeping the one that 
had been given him. On the night of election day many working- 
men brought into the committee rooms of their party the envelopes 
which had been given thejn by their overseers, and described the 
manner in which they had eluded the men who attempted to control 

If the law in its entirety had stood one year longer, a single 
provision that no one should be in sight of the voter when he 
deposited his envelope would have removed all possible objection ; 
and such a provision would have been made. But the Whig party 
got control of the legislature in 1854, and, not daring to attempt 
directly to repeal the secret ballot, passed a provision making it 
"optional" with the voter to vote the secret ballot. Then the 
employer knew that if his laborer voted a secret ballot he desired to 
conceal his vote ; so that voting a secret ballot told, in closely con- 
tested elections, for which party the elector voted. The optional 
provision, therefore, entirely defeated the objects of the law, and such 
voting fell into disuse. 

We have now adopted the Australian system, which is by no means 
so simple or so effective, and which will cause the State to expend 
very many thousands of dollars at each election to carry it out. I 
am opposed to that system by which a man who is not instructed as 
to the names of the officers to be voted for upon his ballot, can be 
easily deluded into voting for those whom he desires not to vote for. 
I am opposed to that system in which a man refuses to mark his bal- 
lot through disgust with the performance of finding out candidates 
for his vote that have not even, so far as he knows, the endorsement 
of his party. While I write this a gentleman sitting near says : " If 
he can read the words ' Democratic ' and ' Republican ' he can find 
out, can he not?" To which I answer that he can find out that 
those two words are there ; but who put them there, or whether the} r 
are there honestly, or whether they represent the sentiments of the 
candidate, the voter has no means of determining. 

Early in the session of 1851 Robert Rantoul, Jr., than whom the 
State never boasted a more" eloquent or logical man as a political 


debater, was elected to the short term in the U. S. Senate, in the 
place of the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, who had been appointed by 
the governor to succeed Webster in the Senate. Winthrop was the 
candidate of the opposition to Charles Sumner, who was loyalty sup- 
ported by the Coalition Democrats, or those who were elected on that 
ticket, with the exception of two or three. From the first, Sumner 
received within a very few votes of a majority, though bitterly opposed 
by the Hunker Democrats and all the Whigs, sixteen persons receiv- 
ing scattering votes. The voting went on until April of that year, 
when Sumner lacked only two votes of an election. But the count 
disclosed that there had been two more votes cast than there were 
members present. 

Early in the session a bill for voting by sealed envelopes at State 
elections was introduced, and was pressed before the legislature 
against the united vote of the Whig and Hunker parties. In this 
condition of things Mr. Sidney Bartlett, the Whig leader, — who until 
the day of his death at ninety years of age was one of the foremost 
lawyers of Massachusetts, if not the foremost one, — made what he 
deemed to be a very cunning proposition, but which, contrary to his 
expectations, turned out to be a very decisive one. He believed that 
the scattering votes were all against Sumner, and that his vote was 
held to him by the party discipline of the Coalition combination. 
This was Mr. Bartlett's proposition, viz : As the Coalition members 
are desirous of having all voting done by secret ballot, would they 
try it in the election of senator ? 

This, of course, was illogical, and, in fact, unconstitutional. The 
people have a right to vote in secret ; the representatives of the people 
have no right to vote in secret, and votes in all legislative matters, 
except the election of a senator, could, if demanded, be by viva voce. 
The United States Constitution and the constitutions of all the States 
have made provisions that the manner in which the representatives 
shall vote must be open, and have provided that it shall be made so 
by the call of the yeas and nays upon the demand of a meagre minor- 
ity. The people are entitled to know how their representatives vote, 
and nobody ought to know how one of the people votes, for they are 
the supreme power, and are accountable to nobody. 

I happened to be on the floor of the House, and standing beside the 
chairman of the State Committee of the Free-Soil party, who, I saw, 


was in momentary doubt upon the question. I said : " Give Bartlett 
the secret ballot, and you will vindicate it sufficiently and whip him 
besides." He immediately arose and said that those with whom he 
acted agreed cordially with the proposition of the representative from 
Boston ; so Bartlett's motion passed by a large majority. Upon the 
next call the sealed envelopes were handed in, and their number was 
found to correspond exactly with the clerk's tally of the names of 
members called, showing that neither mistake nor fraud could happen 
with the secret ballot. But, when the ballots were counted, Sumner 
was declared elected by one majority. And thus the promise of the 
" long eel " to the Free-Soiler was confirmed, by a political arrange- 
ment more fairly and justly carried out than any other with which I 
have ever been acquainted. 

The fact was, the Hunker Democrats were controlled in their votes 
by the fear of losing their standing in the Democratic party, which 
we all believed would, by voting for a Free-Soiler, control the coming 
presidential election in the autumn of 1852. 

They had no doubt of that, because the candidate we all looked 
for was Judge Levi Woodbury, the friend and twice appointed cabinet 
officer of Jackson, and the able and upright Justice of the Supreme 
Court of the United States. In this, however, we were unhappily 
disappointed by his too early death in the following October. 

His selection as a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 1848 
was undoubtedly prevented by the unhappy controversies in the 
State of New York, which were carried into the national convention, 
of which I was a member, and which resulted in the withdrawal of 
the friends of Mr. Van Buren and the Free-Soil rupture in the party, 
with Van Buren for a candidate at the election. 

Notwithstanding the defeat of the Coalitionists in the election of 
1852, the proposition to have a constitutional convention in 
Massachusetts, which had failed in 1851 by a majority of five 
thousand votes, was renewed by the legislature of 1852, and was 
carried by a majority of nearly the same number. The majority rule 
had caused many double elections for representatives to be held every 
year, prolonging the election contests substantially for thirty days. A 
change seemed imperative, and all parties appeared to recognize the 
necessity for it. The House of Representatives was very large and 
would bear considerable reduction ; and it was thought to be better 


to elect senators by single districts, instead of by counties, which 
would give the people a more equal representation. By the 
provisions of the call of that convention, which was adopted by the 
vote of the people, every town was to have at least one delegate, and 
that delegate might be selected from any part of the State by the 
voters of any town. The consequence was that there was an 
attempt to select the ablest men by both parties, without regard 
to location or residence ; and many able men, who, on account of the 
political views of their neighbors, could not be elected by their home 
towns, were elected sometimes from the town of their birth, and 
sometimes from the town of their choice, and sometimes from the 
town itself requesting them to act. I think Governor Boutwell was 
elected by the town of Berlin, a little town on the edge of Worcester 
County, and not by Groton, the town where he resided. Mr. Benjamin 
F. Halle tt, a very distinguished Hunker Democrat living in Boston, 
who had not the slightest hope of being elected in that city, was elected 
from the town of Wilbraham, and thus with many others ; so that 
it may be fairly said that the ablest men of the State formed that 
convention. There were four hundred and twenty-one members of 
the convention. For myself, I had so far outlived newspaper libels 
and attacks, which by propriety of life and conduct one can always 
easily do, that I was elected from my home in Lowell, and served as 
chairman of the committee to which was assigned the revision of 
chapter six of the old constitution. 

The debates in that body, as a rule, were distinguished by fairness, 
courtesy, and argument. Scarcely a distasteful personal allusion was 
made. It performed its work with great diligence, but, having voted 
to have its proceedings, including the speeches, reported verbatim, the 
session was too long protracted, because, under such conditions, every- 
body wants to say something which shall be read by somebody. 

It is a singular fact in the history of all legislative assemblies that 
not much is actually done where the proceedings are officially 
reported. In the United States Senate there is more business done 
in the few days of secret or executive session, where no speeches are 
reported, than is done during the whole session in open Senate where 
the proceedings and speeches are published day by day, with very 
little profit to anybody. Indeed, for several years no report what- 
ever was made of the proceedings of the Senate, which was deemed 


in those days to be an executive rather than a legislative body, and 
all its sessions were held with closed doors. 

I have said that all legislative assemblies that ever did anything 
worth being done were not officially reported. The National 
Assembly of the French Republic and the Cromwellian Parliament 
of England, when the heads of their kings were cut off, were sub- 
stantially secret sessions, — that is, their proceedings were not re- 
ported. Indeed, the celebrated declaration of Deputy Sieyes when 
he cast his vote, "La mort sans phrase" (Death without talk), is 
about all the speech-making that is remembered on that occasion of 
taking a royal life by a vengeful people. Something was done by 
such an assembly. 

The convention that framed the Constitution of the United States 
had no official reporters, and the details of what was done there in 
the matter of speeches are only from the memoranda and recollections 
of some of the more industrious and painstaking members. Elliott's 
Debates is rather the memory of what was said than anything like a 
report. And so the Congress or convention that declared the inde- 
pendence of the United States in 1776 had no reporter; and all 
agree that something was done there. 

The Massachusetts Constitution, as submitted to the suffrages of 
the people, contained all that was valuable in the old Constitution, 
with many needful additional provisions and amendments. These 
additions deserved to meet the approbation of the people of the State, 
and they did within the next three years. But this Constitution 
failed to be adopted at the general election in November, 1853, by 
the very insignificant adverse majority of less than four thousand 
votes. This majority was wholly composed of the Catholic vote in 
Boston alone, as the rest of the State voted for the Constitution in 
spite of the Catholic vote in its cities and towns. 

It may not be uninteresting to preserve as a matter of history the 
reason for the failure of this proposed Constitution. Of course it 
was supported by the party of the Coalition, the Democracy and 
Free-Soil men, and was bitterly opposed by the Whigs and Hunkers, 
the Mugwumps of that day. The Democratic party of Massachu- 
setts then embraced as now a large portion of the Catholics of the 
State. During the session of the convention an article was intro- 
duced, which is now Article 18 of the "Amendments," in which 


was contained the following provision : " And such money [i. e., 
money raised by taxation] shall never be appropriated to any reli- 
gious sect for the maintenance, exclusively, of its own school. 1 ' 

After a prolonged debate in the convention, that article was made 
a portion of the proposed Constitution substantially by the vote of 
the Whigs, aided by some Coalition voters who styled themselves 
"Native Americans." 

This provision was understood to be aimed at the Roman Catholic 
schools and intended to deprive that Church of the possibility, in the 
near future, of having any of the school money of the State appropri- 
ated either by endowment or otherwise to the schools wherein the 
Roman Catholic faith should be taught to the pupils. With the 
unwisdom that has not unfrequently appeared in the proceedings of 
the Romish priesthood, and with a want of foresight that proved dis- 
astrous to their school system, under the lead of the Bishop of Boston 
everything was done to prevent the Catholics from voting for the 
adoption of the Constitution, and their votes caused its rejection at 
the polls. 

Thus were sacrificed all the provisions for the benefit of the com- 
mon people which the party of Free-Soil and Democracy had en- 
grafted upon the Constitution and hoped to have made permanent, 
and all because of an inconsiderate and unwise act of one religious 
sect in arraying itself against all others in an endeavor to make the 
common school education a religious education, This article of the 
proposed Constitution applied to all religious sects, and under it no 
peculiar doctrine could ever be taught in the common schools. 

This performance, which struck down the Constitution, invoked a 
bitterness among the people against the Catholic religion, such as had 
never before been, to any considerable degree, either felt or foreshad- 
owed in the State of Massachusetts. It caused for a time a substan- 
tial obliteration of all parties save the " Native American " party, 
familiarly called the Know-Nothing party, which came into power in 
January, 1855. 

This bigoted and most unscrupulous party, held together in secret 
organization through secret oaths, had grown up during the preced- 
ing year, like a mushroom in the night, and elected Henry J. 
Gardner, a young Boston banker, by a majority such as had never 
before been heard of. This movement broke down the Whig party, 


and substantially absorbed the other two parties. Gardner main- 
tained his hold upon the State for three years, and in the very first 
year, 1855, this 18th Article was approved by the legislature, and it 
was ratified by the people on the 23d day of May of that year. 
Article 20 of the Constitution was another blow to the power of the 
Catholic Church and the Irishmen. It provided that " No person 
shall have the right to vote, or be eligible to office, who shall not be 
able to read the Constitution in the English language, and write his 
name." This article was adopted on the recommendation of the same 
legislature, May 1, 1859. 

This provision has been opposed by the Democratic party in the 
State ever since, and is one to which the writer has ever been op- 
posed. It is not levelled against ignorance wholly, because it shuts 
out from voting or holding office the most learned professor of a for- 
eign university, if it so happen that he cannot read the Constitution 
in the English language. But I do not hold, and never shall believe, 
that the matter of reading and writing should determine the capacity 
of a man to govern himself. Most of the barons of England could 
not write their names, yet they wrested from King John that palla- 
dium of the freedom of the people, Magna Charta, and established the 
rights of the people against royal prerogative. 

An examination of the pay-rolls of that revolution which estab- 
lished the liberty of this country will show that much the larger 
number of the soldiers were such as could not have voted under the 
strict application of this rule of the Constitution of Massachusetts. 
While they could not write their names, they made their marks at 
least, upon the bodies of the Hessian soldiers of Great Britain, who 
were bought to maintain kingly power here. Such a provision is 
an invasion of liberty and the rights of men, and to-day is depriving 
substantially all the laboring men of the South of that true citizenship 
which the soldiers of Massachusetts, many of whom could not read 
and write, fought to give them, — namely, equality of rights that be- 
longed to the man because he was a man. 

These several " Native American " legislatures, which were very 
largely composed of the lower class of sectarian preachers, were found 
to be among the most corrupt legislatures that had ever convened in 
Massachusetts. They employed their time in seeing how they could, 
by legislation, strike down the Catholic religion and the Catholic 


clergy of Massachusetts. They passed the most vindictive laws for 
the purpose of taking away the property of a Catholic Church from 
those who held it by law and right, and would have succeeded in so 
doing had it not been that they were, in fact, what their name im- 
plied, " Know-Nothings." 

I thank God, and that always, that upon my political escutcheon 
there is no tarnish of its brightness, in the form of adherence to any 
doctrine which would deprive of his equal rights with others a man 
of foreign birth, who comes to this country in accordance with the 
law of nations, and takes part in its government under its laws. I 
respected my great-grandfathers too much for that. 

I fought Know-Nothingism " from start to finish." Nor can there 
be found upon my escutcheon the taint of any action against the 
equality of right and the equality of power of all men to govern them- 
selves so long as they obey the laws of the country which gives them 
protection and hope of prosperity for themselves and their children. 
I have ever contemned any machinery of government, however cun- 
ningly devised, and however speciously concealed, by which the few 
shall govern the many under whatever pretence of superiority in any- 
thing, especially in color. 

If this nation of ours ever comes to naught, it will be because the 
few, under one pretext or another, holding the power, have oppressed 
the many. The history of the world may be examined with a vision 
aided by the highest microscopic power, and it will appear that the 
few have ever oppressed the many when they could get the power to 
do it ; but the many have never oppressed the few, although they 
always have had it in their power so to do. 

I know that this declaration will be met, as it has been, with 
the statement : " But what do you say of the French Revolution 
when the people massacred the aristocracy ? ' ; My answer is : That 
illustrates my proposition. Long years of oppression, growing more 
exacting and brutal day by day, until the conditions of life became 
insufferable in France, had crazed the people. They uprose to change 
their government from a kingly aristocratic despotism to a constitu- 
tional government of the people. At first they went no further. 
They stopped there, as did our Puritan ancestry in England when 
they cut off the head of the first Charles. But the kings and lords 
of all the countries of Europe supported the aristocracy of France in 


its bloody attacks and conspiracies to overthrow the government of the 
people, and the people did rightly in rendering powerless, aye, in killing 
the oppressors and their allies, who were endeavoring to recover power 
to oppress them. Those acts of the people during the French Revolution 
which are so much complained of were made necessary by the efforts of 
the crowned heads of Europe to restore despotism to its powers and 
possessions in France, and they were acts well adapted to make that 
restoration impossible. If it is urged that the people went too far in 
that direction, I remember what outrages they and their fathers had 
suffered for generations ; and while I may grieve over the results, I 
have the strongest possible inclination to pardon their acts. 

In my political action thenceforward, I maintained my allegiance 
to the Democratic party. I attended as a delegate every national 
convention from 1848 to 1860 inclusive. I was frequently candidate 
for Congress in my district, but never with the slightest prospect of 
success, the votes on all questions being more than three to one 
against the Democracy. 

In 1858 I was elected to the Senate of Massachusetts by the 
citizens of Lowell. I was the only Democrat on the ticket. In that 
legislature I drew the bill reforming the Judiciary of the State, so 
far as it could constitutionally be done, the Supreme Judicial Court 
being placed out of reach of reform by the provisions of the 
Constitution. The Court of Common Pleas, substantially the trial 
court of the people's causes, was abolished, and a new Court 
established upon a basis on which it remains to-day. Most of the 
provisions of that bill are still the law of the State. 

During all these years, from 1840 to 1860, 1 was receiving instruction 
in another science. This instruction had a most important bearing 
upon my after life, and became of very considerable importance to 
the country. In 1839, the autumn before I was admitted to the bar, 
I had joined as a volunteer soldier in organizing a new company 
in the Massachusetts disciplined soldiery, called the "Lowell City 
Guard." I carried my musket in that company for three years. I 
encamped with the company, either in conjunction with the regiment 
to which it belonged, or in our private encampments, from five to 
nine days every year. I did this to learn the duties of a soldier, for 
I believed then that in the course of my life I should be called upon 
sometime to perform those duties as a soldier in actual war. 



While my military duties were a favorite source of instruction, 
they took a considerable portion of that time which was my resource 
for recreation. But I took substantially no other. I never went to 
a horse race, although I was exceedingly fond of horses ; I never 
went to Saratoga or Newport until after the late war ; and I never 
spent three consecutive days in any year at any summer resort. I 
did take, however, a few short trips on board small vessels at sea. 

I learned the " school of the soldier," soon was promoted to be 
an officer of the lower grade, and then steadily went up, never 
attempting to pass a grade without fully filling the position in due 
order of promotion, until having served in every lower grade, I was 
elected colonel of the regiment to which I had belonged since 1840. 

Our citizen soldiery, known by the name of the " Massachusetts 
Volunteer Militia," were organized and armed by the State and 
in part supported by it. Sometimes in companies, and sometimes 
in regiments or larger bodies, the soldiers were called together for 
encampment five days each year. We were allowed, within certain 
rules, to uniform ourselves as we pleased. All else but our rations 
was furnished by the State. We were armed with arms issued by 
the United States, and in all things we observed, as far as we could, 
the tactics and regulations of the army of the United States. 

Most of us were men quite young, who entered the service for 
the love of military learning. There was enthusiastic rivalry and 
emulation between the several organizations, as well as between 
the several soldiers that composed the companies. I have seen a 
company of Massachusetts volunteers, before the war, perform all 
the duties of the school of the soldier, and of the school of the 
battalion, as well as I have ever seen them done by any body of men 
outside of West Point. 

Of course we were not as good as regulars in the opinion of the 
United States officers ; that was impossible. Their military move- 
ments were mechanical; ours were voluntary. We went through 
our drill because we loved to do it ; they went through theirs because 
they were made to do it. Every right-minded officer since the war 
appreciates the difference. 

When the Know-Nothing Governor Gardner took his seat in 1 855, 
there was a company in my regiment known as the " Jackson Mus- 
keteers." It was composed of young men either born of Irish parents 


or Irishmen themselves, and all its members were citizens, Democrats 
and Catholics. They did their very best to make themselves equal 
to the other companies, and they succeeded, precisely as in Boston 
now the Ninth Regiment, composed of Irishmen, is quite equal, in 
all that makes a soldier, to any other regiment. 

Of course when the Know-Nothing " Native American " frenzy 
swept over the State, there was a call for the disbandment of that 
company, and an incident happened which called special attention to 

The bitterness of political opinion that resulted in Know-Nothingism 
raised strong antipathies among the unthinking and unruly elements 
of the city. At one time it was rumored that a riotous mob would 
attack and burn our very fine costly Catholic Church, as was done by 
a riotous Know-Nothing mob in Philadelphia. The city authorities 
were alarmed, and they called upon me to know, as colonel com- 
manding, whether the military would be found stanch on the side of 
law and order. I had but one reply to make, — that the soldiery 
would obey my orders. The next question came : " But how about 
your Irish company ? " I said I did not look for any trouble on that 
score. Meanwhile it was reported that the military might be called 
out, and this report caused the Know-Nothings to say that in that 
case they would know which company to stone. To make sure that 
the soldiers were all right, I called together four companies, instructed 
them that we might possibly be called upon to preserve the peace, 
and showed them how our organization might be made most effective. 

Then I formed all the soldiers of the four companies into one line, 
giving the familiar order "size march," upon which every man put 
himself in the rear of the man that was next above his height. When 
that line was made, intermingling the men according to their several 
statures, I divided the battalion into four equal companies, each aver- 
aging one Irishman to three Americans. I thought it would be diffi- 
cult for a mob, in the night-time, to distinguish uniformed Irishmen 
so as to make targets of them ; or, if we had to attack the Irish ele- 
ment, it would be equally difficult for them to distinguish the Yankees. 
That proposed formation of the troops was noised abroad, and our 
city was not disgraced by a mob or a riot. 

Governor Gardner had scarcely got warm in his chair when I 
received his order disbanding the " Jackson Musketeers," which I 


was ordered to transmit and cause to be executed. I did not obey 
the order, but addressed a polite but specific letter to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, stating that his action was not in conformity with 
the law of the State. I declared that the governor had no lawful 
power to take such action upon any such ground, and that I must 
refuse to execute such command. 

As I supposed would be the case, I received an order dismissing 
me from the service as colonel. 

My reply was that the governor could not dismiss me without the 
finding by a court martial that I was guilty of a military offence, and 
my disobedience of an illegal order, in time of peace, would not be 
such an offence. I stated that I was ready to try that question, if 
he would order a court martial. He dared not do it. 

I immediately prepared papers to have him restrained from his 
illegal course. To carry his point, by the advice of his council, 
some of whom were members of the bar, he claimed that he had the 
power to reorganize the militia. This was by law organized in cer- 
tain territorial districts, that is to say, each regiment was to be 
within a given territory, and the officers were to be residents in their 
proper districts. 

Gardner issued an order to reorganize the militia, disbanding 
all the regiments and renumbering them differently. In this way 
matters were fixed so that my residence came in the territory of the 
Sixth Regiment, a regiment of which I was not colonel, and the 
Fifth Regiment was put somewhere else where I could not be colonel. 

Because of this trick, there was nothing to be done but to submit to 
the injustice. I said nothing, but waited for a vacancy in the office 
of brigadier-general of the brigade of which I had been one of the 
colonels. Under our constitution the field officers of the brigade 
elected their brigadier, and if there was no objection, they usually 
elected the senior colonel. My fellow-officers were kind enough to 
treat me as if I had not been turned out, and elected me brigadier- 
general. I had the pleasure of receiving from Governor Gardner a 
commission as brigadier-general, signed by himself as chief executive 
of the Commonwealth. He could not withhold his signature, for if 
he did, he and his attorney-general very well knew that proceedings 
for a mandamus would be after him with celerity and vigor, if noth- 
ing more. 


Meantime this contest had made some stir, and President Pierce 
sent the new brigadier-general an appointment as visitor at West 
Point, authorizing me to examine that institution. Thus I had 
the good fortune to have two military appointments, one signed by 
the Know-Nothing Governor Gardner, and the other one signed by the 
Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. When at West Point, I was 
introduced to General Scott, who took me cordially Jyy the hand, and 
said, " I am very glad that the oldest general in the United States 
has the pleasure of receiving the youngest general in the United 
States." • • 

I encamped with nay brigade four years, in 1857, 1858, 1859, and 
1860, so that in fact I had commanded a larger body of troops, duly 
uniformed and equipped, than any general of the United States army 
then living except General Scott. In 1860 Governor Banks called 
together at Concord the whole volunteer militia of Massachusetts, 
amounting to nearly six thousand men. I encamped five days with 
them, so that I had seen together, for discipline, instruction, and 
military movement, a larger body of troops than even General Scott 
had seen together, for he never had so many in one body in Mexico. 

I have a reason for being thus particular in giving my experience 
in military matters. After I had " won my spurs " at Annapolis and 
Baltimore, I was, on the 16th of May, 1861, appointed to the actual 
command of troops in the field. The appointment was criticised by 
a lieutenant of topographical engineers, who afterwards became a 
general in the army, but who, at that time, had never commanded a 
corporal's guard but only took pictures of the country. He said I 
had no military experience, never having been to West Point. He 
forgot that putting an animal into a stable does not make him a horse ; 
that point being better determined by the length of his ears. 




JHE matters treated of in this chapter may seem a twice- 
told tale to readers who lived when they were taking 
place. But it is owed to the younger generation that 
the causes and events which led to the War of the 
Rebellion should be stated here. They can be given 
in a single phrase, — perpetuation of slavery. But why 
and how this led to rebellion will need to be elucidated in order to 
show what caused me, a prominent Democrat, to be among the very 
first to go to the front. 

The institution of slavery was imposed upon the United States by 
the mother country ; but it had, for economic reasons, substantially 
ceased in the northern part of the colonies at the close of the Revo- 
lution, except so far as domestic servitude was concerned. Yet the 
right to hold negro slaves was fully recognized and provided for by 
the Constitution of the United States in several ways, but more 
especially by the provisions of Article. 4, Section 2 : — 

No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, 
escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation 
therein, be discharged from such sendee or labor, but shall be delivered 
up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due. 

That provision imposed upon every State the duty of returning 
fugitive slaves. 

Slavery was further recognized in the Constitution by the 

provisions of Article 1, Section 2 : — 


Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the 
several States which may be included within this Union, according to 
their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the 



whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a 
term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other 

Without these recognitions of the institution of slavery, as estab- 
lished by the laws of the various States, the Constitution could not 
have been adopted. 

These provisions convinced me as a lawyer that the right of the 
people of any State to hold slaves, where the institution was estab- 
lished by law, was clearly a Constitutional right, and that nothing- 
could be done by any State to interfere with that right in any other- 
State without a violation of the Constitution ; and, of course, any- 
thing done to take away that class of property by State or nation,, 
from the owner, was in violation of the Constitution. 

Slavery was repugnant to the moral feelings of a great many citi- 
zens* This was manifested by a law of Congress forbidding the slave 
trade, — not domestic trade, but the importation of slaves into the 
United States. The law was passed under the terms of Article 1, 
Section 9, of the Constitution, by which it was provided that Congress 
might, after 1808, prohibit immigration and the importation of slaves 
into the country. A prohibitory law was passed by Congress in 1818, 
but it was to a very great degree evaded or violated in most of the 
cotton States for many years, without any proceedings being instituted 
for such violations. 

The repugnance of many good citizens to the institution was shown 
in all the States by wills made to free slaves, or by manumission dur- 
ing their lives. Washington, John Randolph, of Roanoke, Virginia, 
and John G. Palfrey, of Louisiana, are notable examples of the surren- 
der of large property in slaves under the impulse of such sentiments. 
There were also colonization societies formed for the purpose of ex- 
porting the negroes to Africa , and the colony of Liberia was estab- 
lished to receive them. Of course colonization did not weaken the 
institution, for in every slave State more slaves were born in a week 
than the colonization societies could have exported to Africa in a year 
even if they could have got them for nothing. 

Slavery had been forbidden in the northwest territory by what 
was known as the " Dane Ordinance.' 1 Then it was foreseen that the 
lower branch of Congress would very soon have representatives in 


such majority, as to do anything against slavery not inhibited by 
the Constitution if the representatives from the North should unite. 
Hence the slave States, in order to preserve the balance of power in 
the Senate, entered into the far-famed Missouri compromise, by which 
Maine, as a free State, was to be taken from Massachusetts, and Mis- 
souri, as a slave State, from the Louisiana purchase, and both were 
to be admitted into the Union at the same time. 

Slavery was abolished in the Southwestern American colonies of 
Great Britain by an Act of Parliament passed in 1833. This act 
emancipated all slaves from the first day of August, 1834, and 
appropriated the sum of twenty million pounds sterling to com- 
pensate the owners for their loss of services. But it held the 
emancipated person as an apprentice for six years, bound to give 
forty-five hours each week to the service of his master. About this 
time an anti-slavery agitation was begun in this country, originating 
substantially in New England, and led by William Lloyd Garrison 
of Massachusetts. It spread rapidly over the whole country North 
and West, many journals being founded for its advocacy. This 
agitation looked to no compensation to the master, but held that 
slavery was wholly unconstitutional; and that if the Constitution 
did recognize and protect it, then the Constitution was a " covenant 
with hell and a league with death. 1 ' 

In several States, notably in Massachusetts, societies were organ- 
ized for the purpose of inducing and aiding slaves to flee to the North 
and thence into Canada, from which they could not be extradited. 
State legislation was attempted by which the Fugitive Slave Law, 
then existing, was to be rendered nugatory and useless. Retaliatory 
measures were introduced at the South. The time of Congress was 
largely spent in discussing and legislating on matters connected with 
the slavery question. 

The balance of power after the adoption of the Missouri compromise 
in 1820 — that is, as many free States as slave States coming into the 
Union — gave an equal number of senators upon the slave question. 
Maine, free, carved out of Massachusetts, was admitted March 3, 
1820, aiad was offset by Missouri, slave, March 2, 1821; Arkansas, 
slave, June 15, 1836, by Michigan, free, Jan. 26, 1837 ; Florida, 
slave, March 3, 1845, hy Iowa, free, March 3, 1845 ; Texas, slave, 
annexed as a State March 1, 1845, by Wisconsin, free, March 3, 


1847. The annexation of Texas brought on the Mexican War, on a 
question of boundary between Texas and Mexico. This war resulted 
in the admission of California as a free State, which was carved out 
of Mexican territory acquired by the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo. 
The balance thus established in the Senate and in the House as 
against slavery, it was patent, must remain forever. 

This condition of things in Congress was the controlling cause of 

In 1848 the Free-Soilers, as the abolition party named themselves, 
made a considerable show of power by the nomination of Martin Van 
Buren for President of the United States, upon a Free-Coil platform, 
which prohibited thereafter wards the admission of any State which 
had established the institution of slavery by its constitution. The 
party had strength enough to defeat Cass, the Democratic candidate 
for President, and thus elected Taylor, the Whig candidate, a South- 
ern slaveholder. The Abolitionists had put up a candidate for 
President at previous elections, but their vote was so small that it 
was never a factor in the political result. 

Taylor lived but fifteen months after his inauguration in 1849, 
and Vice-President Millard Fillmore became President. Under the 
Missouri compromise act, it was provided that other States coming in 
thereafterwards might be admitted as free States if such was the wish 
of the people forming the new States. Near the close of Fillmore's ad- 
ministration a new compromise measure was passed, which included the 
fugitive slave act. The original law, passed in the early days of the 
republic, was to be executed through the medium of State officers, 
but the execution of this new fugitive slave law was put wholly into 
the hands of the courts and officers of the United States. The prin- 
ciple of this act, so it is stated, was that of non-intervention by Con- 
gress with slavery in the States and Territories. Congress declined 
either to legislate slavery into any Territory or State or to exclude it 
therefrom, but left the people thereof perfectly free to form or regu- 
late their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the 
Constitution of the United States. 

This act was carried through largely by the influence and eloquence 
of Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts, but it was his political death 
knell. As we have already seen, he was succeeded in the United 
States Senate by Charles Sumner, a declared Free-Soiler. The 


passage of the act caused very great and universal excitement and 
political agitation. 

In the presidential election of 1852, when Pierce and Scott were 
the candidates, both political parties substantially united on a plat- 
form in regard to slavery. That platform, like most platforms, was 
an evasion of the point actually at issue. At the election, Pierce 
was chosen by the vote of all but five States. 

Meanwhile a fruitful subject of turmoil, anxiety, and political agi- 
tation had formulated itself in the question of the admission of 
the Territory of Kansas. That agitation first took form in settling 
that Territory. It lay on the westerly side of the slave State of 
Missouri and its southern boundary was the Indian Territory, where 
slavery was practically established among the Indians. Most of the 
early settlers of the eastern portion had come from Missouri and 
brought the institution of slavery with them. Thus Kansas seemed 
at first, to have the elements for the formation of a slave State. Great 
exertions were made on the part of the Free-Soilers to settle Kansas 
from the East, so that the majority of the inhabitants should be 
opposed to slavery. The Emigrant Aid Society, a very strong organ- 
ization duly incorporated in the State of Massachusetts, sent into that 
Territory great numbers of emigrants ; and they went also, although 
more spontaneously, from other free States. The southern slave- 
holders likewise made exertions to have those of their people who 
desired to emigrate, go to Kansas and aid in making it a slave State. 

The emigrants on both sides went there armed. When attempts 
were made to hold elections, armed bands went from Missouri to con- 
trol those elections. A convention was held to provide an organic 
law for the State, and it resulted in a constitution providing for 
slavery, known as the Lecompton Constitution. This was consid- 
ered by the people of the United States rather the expression of the 
will of the armed intruders of Missouri into Kansas, than the voice 
of her own people. Meanwhile the " free settlers " of Kansas elected 
delegates to a convention which provided that Kansas should be a 
free State, and that slavery should be prohibited in its organic law, 
and then, set up a State government for Kansas before its admission 
as a State by Congress. 

There have been several States admitted under such proceedings, 
but none where the struggles upon great and vital questions were so 



fierce as in this. President Pierce sent a body of troops into Kansas, 
and by force of arms dispersed the " free settlers' " government. 
This exercise of executive power was very repugnant to the majority 
of the free States, and so great was the opposition raised by it that his 
administration was only enabled to keep itself alive in passing the 
necessary appropriations for its existence, by a majority of three votes. 

Meanwhile came on the election of 1856, and Fremont was put in 
nomination by the Republican party, under which name were arrayed 
all who were dissatisfied with the administration on the slavery 
question. The Democrats nominated James Buchanan, and he was 
elected by a very meagre majority, if at all, for I have always believed 
that he owed his election to a fraudulent return or count in the 
State of Pennsylvania. 

On the slavery question 
the administration of Bu- 
chanan did literally nothing 
except to endeavor to keep 
the peace among the several 
factions, without much suc- 
cess. At the same time the 
Southern States were hold- 
ing conventions, passing 
resolutions, and declaring 
for the right of secession. 

In many of the States the proposition of secession was defeated only 
upon the ground that the time had not come for it. 

The next important event was the incursion of John Brown, 
known as Pottowattomie Brown, of Kansas, into the State of Virginia 
with his sixteen men, with intent to raise an insurrection of the 
negroes, and thus overthrow slavery. He took possession of Harper's 
Ferry and captured nineteen persons, principal men of the town, 
whom he took with him into the engine house of the United States 
Arsenal, as prisoners* 

The State of Virginia did not prove itself able to dispossess him, but 
two companies of United States Marines, consisting of fifty men each, 
were very anomalously put under the command of Lieut.-Col. Robert 
E. Lee, of the United States Army, and sent to Harper's Ferry by the 
President to capture Brown and his handful of men who were making 


John Bkown's Fort. 


war on Virginia. The selection of Colonel Lee to command this 
expedition seems to have been because of his soundness on the slavery 
question. He went to Harper's Ferry and succeeded in capturing 
Brown and his sixteen men, and in releasing the prisoners. This 
military feat seems to have been the first great victory' of Gen. 
Robert E. Lee. It certainly was a complete one. 

This performance was criticised by the strict constructionists of 
such provisions of the Constitution as declared against the inter- 
ference of the United States in such matters by the use of troops, 
except in case of war or invasion by a foreign power. But greater 
events soon overshadowed criticisms on constitutional law. 

The Democratic National Convention of 1860 was held at 
Charleston, South Carolina. To this convention I was a delegate, as 
I had been to every national Democratic convention since 1844. It 
was presided over by Gen. Caleb Cushing, of Massachusetts. 

Having become satisfied that there was danger of an attempt to 
sever the Union of the States upon the slavery question, I sedulously 
devoted myself to an endeavor to keep the peace, and keep the 
Democratic party together, because I looked to that as the only 
source of safety to the Union. Upon the slavery question Mr. 
Douglas was the leader of that part of the convention which 
advocated the principle known as " squatter sovereignty," that is, the 
right of a people who settle in any part of the territory of the 
United States, to organize themselves under such laws precisely as 
they choose to enact, and then to be admitted into the Union 
without being subjected by Congress to any conditions or any pro- 
vision as to freedom or slavery in their statehood. 

This doctrine seemed to me to be fraught with very great dangers. 
I did not believe that another slave State could be admitted into 
the Union by any Congress that could be elected, even if the 
squatters settling that State should so desire. I did believe that 
the control by Congress of this power of admission was necessary to 
the perpetuity of the government. The whole South substantially 
agreed in opinion that the passage of a resolution acknowledging 
such control would be followed by instant secession by one or 
more States. The Southern States had already said that one or two 
States ought not to secede unless they were sure of being supported 
by other States. 


Out of the thirty-three members of the Committee on Resolutions, 
of which I was one, there weie sixteen in favor of the Douglas plat- 
form as the one on which the Democratic party should stand at the 
coming election. The other sixteen were in favor of a very care- 
fully worded resolution, which seemed to me equally objectionable, 
because it left the question of slavery as a State institution, to be 
decided by the Supreme Court. 

I for one was unwilling to trust that question to the Supreme 
Court because I thought I knew the opinions of the majority of the 
judges of that court ; and if one should die no man could be put in 
his place and be confirmed by the Senate who would not stand by what 
were called the compromises of the Constitution in favor of slavery. I 
thought then as I think now, that it was destructive of all proper con- 
sideration and respect for the Supreme Court to put before it the 
decision of political questions. I had seen a warning example of that 
in the effect of the u Dred Scott" decision upon the respect and 
consideration which should be due to the Supreme Court and its 
opinions in matters of law, as the supreme law at last. That decision 
satisfied neither party, and was derided by one and trampled upon 
by the other. 

Therefore I introduced a resolution which was the exact platform 
of the National Democratic Convention held at Cincinnati in 1856, 
under which that party had carried the election. The committee 
was in session three days, and the result of its deliberations was three 
reports. The first was the Douglas report; the second was what 
was afterwards known as the anti-Douglas report; and the third, 
which was mine, was known as the "Cincinnati platform pure and 
simple," because I had inadvertently used that phrase in the commit- 
tee. I had learned that the Southern delegates did not particularly 
desire the anti-Douglas resolution, but that they were especially 
afraid of the nomination and election of Douglas. They declared 
that they could not and would not trust him. It is needless here to 
state the reasons, or whether they were well founded or not, but only 
that from personal observation I learned the fact. 

Mr. Douglas was my personal friend. The district which had 
sent me to the convention was undoubtedly in his favor. Calling on 
Judge Douglas on my way through Washington, I told him in a full 
and frank conversation that I did not think he could be nominated, 


or, if nominated, elected. He turned to me and said, — " Well, you 
will vote for me ? " 

" Yes, because I shall vote according to what I believe to be the 
views of my constituents. How many times do you want me to vote 
for you before I may change my vote ? " 

" Oh," said he, " three times will be enough." 

" Well, Judge," I said, laughing, " I will do better than that ; I 
will vote for you five times, and then feel at liberty to change." 

" Oh," said he, "that will be more than enough," and we parted. 

My personal preference for President was Guthrie of Kentucky, 
who had been Secretary of the Treasury during Pierce's administra- 
tion. Being well acquainted with him I had great reverence for him 
as a clear-headed man, of quick perceptions, of careful and conserva- 
tive reflections upon all subjects, and of a well-balanced mind. And 
I further knew that he looked upon the preservation of the Union as 
infinitely beyond any question in regard to slavery, and that he was 
willing to sustain slavery but not at the expense of the Union. I 
have never seen any reason to change that opinion. 

The committee on resolutions presented two reports to the con- 
vention, the Douglas and the anti-Douglas reports, and I reported, 
as a minority of one, the " Cincinnati platform pure and simple." 
The first two reports were ably argued from the platform by the rep- 
resentatives of each sixteen States who favored them, but their prop- 
ositions did not seem to be received with much favor. This course 
of procedure gave me an opportunity to argue in favor of my very 
minority report, and this I proceeded to do with all the power I 

After the arguments a vote was taken by States on the reports, and 
to the surprise of all, the convention adopted the " Cincinnati plat- 
form," which was substantially satisfactory to all the convention 
except South Carolina. In some way the delegation from that State 
seemed to see in its adoption the control of the convention by the 
friends of Mr. Douglas. That delegation also wanted there should 
be an explicit declaration in favor of slavery in the platform. When 
the platform was adopted the South Carolina delegation, headed by 
Governor Barry, seceded from the convention in a body, so that the 
State might not be bound by the action of the convention, and we 
adjourned for dinner. 



This performance of South Carolina, applauded by several of 
the Southern Atlantic and Gulf States, suddenly and strongly 
foreshadowed to me certain consequences in the near future. 
War appeared to me inevitable. An incident will show how 
strongly I was impressed. I took dinner at the Mills House with 
Governor Barry of the South Carolina delegation, at his invitation, 
given a day or two before. 
After dinner we were 
pacing up and down the 
veranda of the Mills 
House, not in a very 
talkative mood, and I 
cast my eye over the 
building, counting its 
stories and looking at its 
extent. Barry, to rally 
me, said : " Why, But- 
ler, what are you ex- 
amining this building so 
critically for ? Are you 
thinking of coming down 
here and setting up as a 
tavern-keeper ? " 

" Oh, no, Governor," 
I answered ; " I was 
thinking of something 
very different from that, 
because of South Caro- 
lina's secession from the 
convention this morning. I was making a mental calculation as to 
how many troops could be comfortably quartered in this hotel." 

" Oh," said he, "it won't come to that." 

" God grant that it may not," was my reply. 

The friends of Mr. Douglas had not the least hope of carrying the 
convention if the two thirds rule of national Democratic conventions, 
established in 1844, under which Polk was nominated as against Van 
Buren, should be sustained. I also learned that the Douglas leaders 
had formulated the plan that if they could get a majority vote for 

Secession Hall, Charleston, S. C. 



Douglas, they would, before proceeding to ballot further, move to 
rescind that rule of the convention. 

The balloting began. Mr. Chapin, my colleague, a firm and 
consistent Democrat, voted with me, we having agreed to vote 
together, for I had learned that his preference was for Guthrie. We 
voted for Douglas* seven times consecutively, and the secession of 
South Carolina made the vote so close that Mr. Douglas was within 
one vote of a majority. 

The most ordinary understanding of the action of political con- 
ventions will convince any one that if he desires to bring forward 
an outside candidate with any hope of success, it is best never to 
have the name mentioned until the state of the canvass shows that 
a new name is desirable. Wherefore I looked around for a 
representative man to vote for, so that when I changed from Mr. 
Douglas, I could show the Southern delegates on whom I must 
rely to bring forward my candidate, that I was willing to take a 
representative Southern man as candidate for the presidency. 

As I have said, I was quite willing so to do, because in looking 
over the histories of all the presidents on the questions of slavery, I 
found that the North on that question always got more under a 
Southern president than a Northern one. A Southerner had a 
standing that would sustain him in such action, while a Northern 
president looking for a re-election at that time would be inclined to 
cater to the South irrespective of principle. Accordingly when the 
next vote was called, my colleague and myself voted for Jefferson 
Davis. Whether we made a good selection, subsequent events have 
so fully demonstrated that I need not discuss that question. 

Why my choice fell upon Davis was this : He was not a candidate 
even of his own State before the convention. He had highly 
distinguished himself as an officer and gallant soldier in the Mexican 
War. Statesmanlike in all his expressions, he ranked among the 
very first as a senator. No ultra notions as to the heresy of secession 
could at that time be found upon his record in the Senate. While in 
the Senate I had occasion, in behalf of the State of Massachusetts, 
to converse with him upon the question whether Massachusetts 
should be paid the interest on the war expenses incurred by her in 
1812, when she acted in a way that pleased nobody, and certainly 
not a Southern Democrat. 


Perhaps I should explain this last observation on the conduct of 
Massachusetts in the war of 1812, as it has passed from memory but 
not from history. When troops were wanted by the United States, 
and Massachusetts was called upon by the President to furnish her 
quota, our governor, Caleb Strong, decided that they could not be 
marched beyond the limits of the State, except the President came 
himself and marched them. And the Supreme Court of Massachu- 
setts sustained the governor, — a decision which would now be scouted 
by every lawyer. And so, as the President could not come to march 
the Massachusetts troops, they were never marched. 

Again, when the news of a naval victory over a British frigate 
by the good ship Constitution was reported, a Massachusetts senator, 
unrebuked, introduced a resolution that it was unbecoming in a moral 
and religious people to rejoice over a victory against England, the 
bulwark of the Protestant religion. I do not give words here, but 
phrases, because I am speaking from memory ; but any critic who 
chooses to look it up will find that I am right in substance. Is it a 
wonder that British troops in that war took and held for a long time the 
soil and towns of our State, the only State whose soil was so held ? 

Davis listened to me and undertook the advocacy of our claim. It 
had been laughed at and repudiated by Congress for more than forty 
years ; but, by his industry in getting together the facts to show its 
justice, and by his clearness in putting them before the Senate, he 
carried the measure. The interest was paid ; but only a portion of it, 
however, after the check was drawn, went to the benefit of the treas- 
ury of the State. 

As Secretary of War, Davis had shown great reach of thought and 
great belief in the future of the country. It is to the surveys and 
explorations ordered by him as Secretary of War that much of the 
prosperity and growth of the Northwest is due. We owe to those 
surveys and explorations the Union Pacific Railroad, which was built 
to bind the East and West together as with a chain of steel, after 
Davis had seceded. 

While he was Secretary of War he made a tour through a portion 
of the New England States. In a part of this trip I accompanied him, 
and I then had occasion to learn his character and his ability. He 
was not an original disunionist, but felt bound to follow his State. 
He himself told me this in December, 1860. 


For these reasons I voted for him fifty-seven times in that conven- 
tion, and then the convention adjourned without any break in the votes. 
Near the beginning of the voting, when Douglas was within one vote of 
a majority, one of Douglas' friends came across the hall to our dele- 
gation and said : "Who here is voting for Jeff Davis ? A vote for 
Douglas which will give him a majority is worth $25,000." I said 
to him : " Sir, it takes two of us here to carry a vote, as you know. 
Here is my colleague in voting, Mr. Chapin ; he is worth a couple of 
millions, or more. Perhaps you can prevail upon him, if you would 
like to try." That conversation went no further. 

For these votes for Jefferson Davis I have been criticised and 
abused for more than thirty years, in every form of words that 
characterizes calumny. Yet, up to the time of my voting for him, the 
only secession by the representatives of any State was that of the 
delegation of South Carolina when it withdrew from the Democratic 
convention. For aught that anybody in the world knew, Davis was 
still loyal to the Union. As a loyal Union soldier he had been 
rewarded by a seat in the Cabinet of President Pierce, as Secretary 
of War. This post he had filled with commendation, and had then 
taken a seat in the Senate. 

This abuse was heaped upon me because he afterwards acted upon 
the claimed conviction that there was an inherent right in the States 
to secede from the Union and form another national confederation, if 
there were a sufficient number of States joining together for that 
purpose. But no declaration of his can be found to that effect until his 
speech in the Senate in 1861, wherein he asserted the doctrine, then 
first fully expounded, that there was an inherent right in the States of 
the Union, without being treasonable, peaceably to secede from the 
Union ; that the United States Government had no right or legal 
power to coerce their return, and that it was, therefore, the duty of 
the citizen of any State, being bound by an oath of allegiance to his 
State, to follow it in this rightful and not treasonable proceeding. 

It will be remembered that I voted for him in June, 1860. If I had 
happened, to vote for Horace Greeley, who was afterwards Democratic 
candidate for the presidency, my loyalty to the Union would have been 
highly praised for bringing forward the name of such a thorough-going, 
stanch, uncompromising Union man as that Abolition chief. He is 
supposed never to have swerved in his devotion to the integrity of the 


Union. What, then, were the doctrines held by Horace Greeley on 
this subject during the year 1860, both before and after the actual 
secession of South Carolina and several other Southern States ? 

I will quote from the Tribune editorials of Mr. Greeley some 
statements which will enlighten the people of the country as to the 
state of mind of a very considerable portion of the Republican party. 
These people followed the lead of the editor of the Tribune until, by 
his incessant hounding of the administration, he caused the govern- 
ment to precipitate the disastrous battle of Bull Run, fought on the 
21st day of July, 1861, and by his continual cry of " On to 
Richmond" instigated a war upon the Southern Confederacy for 
doing that which he had encouraged them to do and justified them 
in doing, to wit, peaceably seceding from the Union. It is needless, 
perhaps, for me to say that I did not believe in Horace Greeley's 
statesmanship or teachings in 1860, nor before or after. I shall not 
quote his insane ravings for immediate battle in 1861. The 
following are extracts from his editorials in 1860 : — 

[New York Tribune, Dec. 8, I860.] 

. . . We again avow our deliberate conviction that whenever six or eight 
contiguous States shall have formally seceded from the Union, and avowed 
the pretty unanimous and earnest resolve of their people to stay out, it will 
not be found practicable to coerce them into subjection ; and we doubt 
that any Congress can be found to direct and provide for such coercion. 
One or two States may be coerced ; but not an entire section or quarter of 
a Union. If you do not believe this, wait and see. 

[New York Tribune, Dec. 17, I860.] 

. . . But if ever seven or eight States send agents to Washington to say, 
" We want to get out of the Union," we shall feel constrained by our 
devotion to human liberty to say, " Let them go." And we do not see 
how we could take the other side without coming in direct conflict with 
those rights of man which we hold paramount to all political arrange- 
ments, however convenient and advantageous. 

[New York Tribune, Dec. 24, I860.] 

. . . Most certainly we believe that governments are made for the peoples, 
not peoples for governments ; that the latter derive their just power from 
the consent of the governed ; and whenever a portion of this Union, large 


enough to form an independent self-subsisting nation, shall show that, and 
say authentically to the residue, " We want to get away from you," I shall 
say — and we trust self-respect, if not regard for the principles of self- 
government, will constrain the residue of the American people to say — 


[New York Tribune, Dec. 28, I860.] 

. . . Nor is it treason for the State to hate the Union and seek its dis- 
ruption. A State, a whole section may come to regard the Union as a 
blight upon its prosperity, an obstacle to its progress, and be fully justified 
in seeking its dissolution. And in spite of adverse clamor we insist that 
if ever a third or even a fourth of these States shall have deliberately 
concluded that the Union is injurious to them, and that their vital inter- 
ests require their separation from it, they will have a perfect right to seek 
such separation ; and should they do so with reasonable patience, and 
due regard for the rights and interests of those they leave behind, we 
shall feel bound to urge and insist that their wishes be gratined, — their 
demand conceded. 

It will be observed that these utterances were made after secession 
had become a pronounced and vital question ; and as I have shown, 
I voted for Davis in 1860, with intent to preserve the Union and 
ward off that very secession which Greeley long afterwards justified, 
advised, and did all that he could to incite. 

Nearly a year after my vote, Gen. Winfield Scott, then the 
Commander of the United States Army, being organized to prevent 
secession, declared in regard to the secession of certain Southern 
States: " Way ward sisters ; let them go in peace." 

It will be seen hereafter that at the time Greeley was writing these 
editorials, I was declaring to the leading members of the Southern 
States, my political associates, that there was no right of secession ; 
that the government had a right to restrain it by force of arms, and 
that the North would fight to prevent it. In view of these facts, did 
I deserve the abuse poured upon me for that vote by insensate news- 
papers, headed by the New York Tribune, or ought I to apologize for 
having so voted? 

The • convention then adjourned to Baltimore without further 
action. This adjournment to Baltimore was a plan of the friends of 
Judge Douglas, and its purpose was afterwards accomplished. It 
was evident that very many of the delegates of the convention, 


especially those from the Gulf States, would never go to Baltimore, 
and some announced an intention of resigning their positions. The 
Dousflas men in the several Southern States held district conven- 
tions anew and elected other delegates, enough to give their chief 
a working majority. 

A large portion of the New England delegates, who went to 
Charleston by sea in a steamer chartered by themselves, returned by 
land, and on their journey home discussed the situation of political 
affairs very earnestly but very sadly. Many of them were of the 
confirmed conviction that the Democratic party was, as proved to be 
the fact, hopelessly divided for years. Signs of sectional disunion 
were numerous and portentous. Among the most important was the 
division of the Methodist-Episcopal Church into a Northern and a 
Southern organization. 

It was also evident that at least six of the Southern States would 
secede if the coming election should prove disastrous to the Democ- 
racy, and if a Republican President, presumably Seward, should be 
elected. In that event the most thoughtful were persuaded that war 
would follow, but of what magnitude none could foresee. Among 
the returning delegates was George F. Shepley, of Maine, who after- 
wards went with me to Ship Island in command of a regiment, 
became a brigadier-general, and died a Circuit Court Judge of the 
United States. As we were crossing the Potomac from Acquia 
Creek, he turned to me and said: "Butler, when we cross the 
Potomac again we shall be carrying muskets on our shoulders ; " and 
I replied: "That is only too likely to be the fact." 

The convention met in Baltimore, on the 18th of June, in accord- 
ance with its adjournment. When it assembled it appeared that the 
places of the seceding delegates from the South had been filled by 
the adherents of Judge Douglas. This gave him a decided majority, 
although by no means the necessary two thirds. The two thirds rule 
had been adopted in 1844 by the Democratic National Convention, 
and readopted by every succeeding convention. It provided that no 
nomination could be made that did not bring to its support two thirds 
of the members of the convention. If that rule obtained, the nomi- 
nation of Douglas was impossible. The organization of the conven- 
tion indicated very clearly, however, that the rule would be repealed. 
Some of the new Douglas delegates from the South were much more 



pro-slavery than the seceding ones. The seceders would have been 
content if they could have been assured that existing laws concern- 
ing slavery would be sustained. Some of the new delegates declared 
themselves in favor of laws reopening the slave trade and authorizing 
the importation of negroes from Africa. One Goulding, of Georgia, 
made a most violent speech in that direction, and it was loudly 
applauded by a majority of the Southern delegates. 

Those delegates, who believed that it was better for the country 
that the laws in any degree humanizing negro slavery should be 
maintained, deemed it necessary to withdraw from the convention, 
before the nominations were made, that they might not be bound by 
its proposed action. With them went those delegates who believed 
that the slaveholder should have the right to own his negroes in the 
Territories, until the Territories became States, as he would have 
his right to any other property, and that the State in its Constitution 
should determine whether he should emancipate his slaves or emi- 
grate from the State. This was the doctrine of those men afterwards 
known as squatter sovereignty Democrats. Thereupon, the Hon. 
Caleb Cushing, who had been elected to preside over the convention 
at Charleston, and who still presided over its deliberations at Balti- 
more, abandoned the chair and left the convention. 

I also left the convention, stating as one of my reasons for with- 
drawing that "I would no longer sit in a convention where the 
reopening of the African slave trade, made piracy by every law of 
God and man, was advocated and applauded." The delegates who 
withdrew organized themselves into another convention, and nomi- 
nated John C. Breckenridge, then Vice-President of the United 
States, but not until the Northern delegates had received from Mr. 
Breckenridge and his Southern supporters, not merely the strongest 
possible declaration of his devotion to the Union and the Constitu- 
tion, but a particular disavowal and repudiation of the cry then 
ringing through the South, that if the Republican party came into 
power, the South would secede. 

Before Mr. Breckenridge was nominated I went to Washington, 
and had^ an interview with him, and received such assurances. I 
have no doubt that Mr. Breckenridge was sincere, and intended to 
stand by his pledge. He certainly adhered fully to the Union down 
to the time when war became inevitable. 


The platform of the Breckenriclge convention upon the subject of 
slavery was this : Slavery lawfully exists in a Territory the moment 
a slave owner enters it with his slaves. The United States is bound 
to maintain his right to hold slaves in a Territory, but when the 
people of the Territory frame a State Constitution they are to decide 
whether to enter the Union as a slave or as a free State. If as a 
slave State, they are to be admitted without question, but if as a free 
State the slave owners are to retire or emancipate their slaves. 

It is but just to say that we knew the defeat of Breckenridge was 
inevitable, because of the rupture of the Democratic party, caused 
by the friends of Douglas. We supposed that the Republican party 
would come into power under the lead of Seward, and that the 
majority of the Senate and the Supreme Court would still be Demo- 
cratic, and probably a majority of the House also. This was the 
actual result of the election, though resignation of their seats by 
secession members of Congress wiped out that majority. We 
thought that the scramble for office in the Republican party would 
disunite it, and that it would go to pieces within six months. We 
foresaw that at the very next election of members of Congress after 
the inauguration of the President, the people would elect a House 
in* opposition to the administration, as had uniformly been the case. 
That also became a fact. Mr. Lincoln would have been beaten in 
his first House of Representatives by nearly a two thirds majority, 
if one third of his opponents had not left their seats vacant. 

In regard to Douglas, we were certain that his personal aspira- 
tions, forcing him into a contest which had disrupted the Democratic 
party, would shelve him forever as a Democratic politician, almost 
as effectually as if he had been buried physically instead of politi- 
cally. We further arranged to have our organization extend to 
1864, and then to sustain our young leader, Breckenridge, for the 
presidential nomination of that year, when there would be a certainty 
of success. 

There was only one reason why I did not share fully in these 
expectations, and that was because I believed that secession was 
certain and war would inevitably follow. But I was willing to 
make one more attempt, at whatever of personal sacrifice, to prevent 
a final destruction of the Democratic party, and the consequent 
disunion of the nation. 


I returned home only to meet a very violent opposition and 

Perhaps here it may be well to say a few words upon the political 
condition of the country. 

Two candidates had been nominated by two factions of the 
Democratic party. The Republican party had not made its nomina- 
tion, but it was fully believed the candidate of that party would be 
Mr. Seward. He had proclaimed the doctrine of an " irrepressible 
conflict " existing in the country upon the slavery question. That 
doctrine, if carried to its logical conclusion, meant war. 

I had been elected as a delegate to the Democratic convention by a 
constituency that undoubtedly was in favor of Judge Douglas, because 
the country understood that his platform on the question of slavery 
was " squatter sovereignty, " which was understood to mean that the 
question of slavery should be determined in any Territory by the 
people who settled that Territory. If the Territory was settled by 
Northern men in majority, that meant the extinction of slavery there. 
We had had an example of that in the case of the State of Kansas. 

The people of the North were enterprising and far-reaching, and 
had settled most of the already thriving country of the Northwest, 
and would, of course, settle the remainder of that unoccupied Terri- 
tory as soon as it was in a situation to be inhabitated. The South 
was composed of more stable and unemigrating communities than 
the North. Beside, the question of slavery would be of no conse- 
quence to the Southern man unless he left his home and took with 
him negroes enough to make it worth while to maintain a stand 
upon the question, and men who had such an amount of property 
rarely emigrated. So that Douglas' position, when I was chosen 
a delegate, was one which would quietly and peaceably settle the 
future extension of slavery, at least for a time, and avoid all danger 
of an armed or violent disturbance. Therefore, I was in favor of 
his candidature, and was so elected by my district. 

As I have already said, I called upon Judge Douglas, who did 
not inform me of any change in his political views, and I told him 
that, while I doubted whether he could be nominated, I was willing 
to vote for him five times. When I reached Charleston, it was 
plain to me, and to everybody else of any discernment, that Judge 
Douglas could not be nominated on the platform of " squatter sover- 


eignty," because the South saw that such a doctrine would, as I 
have shown above, be a practical ending of the slavery question, so 
far as the future admission of new States into the Union was con- 
cerned. They viewed it as I did. 

Originally there were two sets of resolutions presented in the 
Committee on Resolutions. The first embodied substantially the 
Douglas doctrine. The other was a series of propositions which 
provided for a slave code for the Territories, and upon the high 
seas, and declared that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery 
in the Territories ; that the legislatures of the Territories had not 
the power to prohibit therein either slavery or the introduction of 
slaves, nor any power to destroy or impair the right of property 
in slaves by any legislation whatever ; and that, furthermore, it was 
the duty of the federal government to protect the rights of persons 
and property on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever its 
Constitutional authority might extend. 

The committee was divided upon these propositions, sixteen free 
States advocating the Douglas doctrine, and fifteen slave States, 
together with OregDn and California, dissenting. While the con- 
sultation was going on, three gentlemen entered the committee- 
room and announced themselves a committee from a caucus of the 
friends of Judge Douglas, with a resolution which his friends 
desired to be reported to the convention, in order, the chairman 
said, to aid the Southern friends of Judge Douglas. The resolu- 
tion was as follows : — 

Resolved, That all questions in regard to the rights of property in the 
States and Territories arising under the Constitution of the States are 
judicial in their character, and the Democratic party is pledged to 
abide by and faithfully carry out such determination of this question as 
has been or may be made by the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Now, the decision of the Supreme Court had been in substance 
that " a negro had no rights that a white man was bound to respect ;" 
and this was the platform proposed by the friends of Judge Douglas 
as a concession to the South. It were better that a slave code, if 
we were to have one, should be made by Congress than by a decision 
of the Supreme Court, especially if we assented that the questions 
were not legislative, but judicial. If the Supreme Court made a slave 


code upon those principles, it could not be repealed, however objec- 
tionable it might be, and however the interests of the country might 
suffer in consequence; whereas, a slave code made by Congress 
could be repealed if found injurious to the country or unjust to any 
portion of its people. I objected to having a caucus dictate what 
the Committee on Resolutions should adopt, or interfere with its 
deliberations ; but my point of order was overruled. 

This new resolution involved an entire change of principles as to 
the slavery question from those which I supposed Judge Douglas 
held. If he was willing to make such a concession to the slave 
power to secure the votes of the South, I wanted none of him ; but 
I could not hold him responsible, as he was not there. 

I then introduced the resolutions of the Cincinnati platform of 
1856, with the addition of a resolution that the United States 
should extend a like protection over its native born and naturalized 
citizens. To this clause no objection was made. My proposition 
was voted down in the committee by seventeen States to sixteen. 
The Douglas propositions were voted down by seventeen States, and 
the other propositions were carried by seventeen States, — fifteen 
slave States and two free States, Oregon and California. What 
became of the resolutions in the convention I have already stated. 

I have also given the report adopted at Baltimore by the Brecken- 
ridge convention, and the only change made in the resolutions of 
the Breckenridge convention was to add a declaration against 
secession. I chose to support the nomination of Breckenridge 
because the question for the country to determine (leaving out the 
side show of the Bell and Everett candidature, which was to come 
to nothing), was between secession and the recognition of the Con- 
stitutional rights of slavery on the one side, and the submission of 
the governing power of the people on this great question to certain 
appointive officers under such declaration of legal principles, that, 
from their decision, there was no appeal or future revision. There- 
fore the giving of my support to my friend Breckenridge was a 
simple protest against the doctrine of secession. 

On my return to Lowell, I was met with the most bitter and 
humiliating charges. When the district delegates who had elected 
me were called together to listen to my report, our very large city 
hall, capable of accommodating six thousand people, was completely 


filled. Part of those in attendance were delegates, bnt part were 
miserable creatures, who got their inspiration from a neighbor- 
ing tavern, the Merrimac House, kept by an old political enemy, 
whom I had prosecuted for selling liquor unlawfully. When I 
arose to speak, I was met with the most uproarious yells and 
drunken cat-calls that one can well imagine. I asked to be heard, 
but they declared that I should not speak. As I had made no 
preparation for such a state of affairs, I was not able to speak and 
the meeting broke up in confusion. But I announced to the audi- 
ence that two weeks from that day I would address them in that 
hall, and that I should be prepared to deal with mobs and their 
instigators in a way that would be exceedingly unpleasant to them; 
and advised those who were not disposed to conduct themselves 
properly to stay at home. On that day, however, the decent and 
orderly Democracy filled the hall, and I made a speech of several 
hours in length, which was regarded by my friends and personal 
associates as a very effective defence of my course in the Charleston 
and Baltimore conventions. 

The campaign went on. The Breckenridge party put in nomina- 
tion their candidates in Massachusetts, and I accepted the candi- 
dature for the office of Governor, willing to be sacrificed to the 
political cyclone. I received but 6,000 of the 169,584 votes cast, 
whereas, the year before, as a candidate of the united Democracy, 
I had received 35,326 of 108,495 cast. I had done nothing in the 
meantime to change the vote except to declare myself unalterably 
opposed to a slave code to be established by the Supreme Court of 
the United States under our Constitution. For that court would 
be obliged to follow the legal principle enunciated in the decision 
in the "Drecl Scott case," and this could only lead to reopening 
the African slave trade on the high seas, where it had been prohib- 
ited for nearly half a century, and riveting the chains on the 
negroes forever. 

The National Committee appointed by the Breckenridge Conven- 
tion of Baltimore consisted of fifteen gentlemen, of whom I was one. 
They had agreed, before they separated, to meet at Washington 
during the holidays in December, to take note of the results of the 
election, and to issue an address to the Democracy of the country 
for reorganization. But Lincoln having been elected, and South 


Carolina having seceded, and several other of the Southern States 
having taken action in that direction, only seven members, I think, 
of that committee met. As soon as we came together, it was evident 
that the Breckenridge wing of the Democratic party was wholly dis- 
rupted. I was informed by my Southern colleagues that the South 
had come to the conclusion to secede from the Union and form 
a government whose corner-stone should be slavery, and that their 
new empire would never permit reunion with any other of the 
States, except possibly Pennsylvania and a few Western States. 
They even decided that if all the other States should unite, New 
England was to be left out in the cold. No reunion was ever to 
be accorded to her. 

" Well, " I said, " what are you going to do with your Democratic 
friends in those States ? " 

"Oh, they must take care of themselves," was the cool reply. 

" Well, where am I to go ? " 

" Oh, you had better come down and live with us ; we will take 
care of you; we want such men as you are." 

I said: "I can't do that, and what is more I won't do that. 
Your whole scheme is entirely impracticable, and no part of it can 
possibly be successfully carried out." 

"Why not?" 

"Because it is treason to the country, and the North will fight 
to prevent it." 

"Who will fight? " was the reply. 

"Well, I will for one, and I shall be joined by a great many." 

"The North can't fight; we have friends enough at the North to 
prevent it." 

"You have friends at the North as long as you remain true to 
the Constitution, but let me tell you that the moment it is 
seen that you mean to overthrow the government, the North will 
be a unit against you. I can answer at least for Massachusetts; 
she is good for ten thousand men to march at once against armed 

"Massachusetts is not such a fool. If your State has ten thousand 
men to preserve the Union against Southern secession, she will have 
to fight twice ten thousand of her own citizens at home who will 
oppose the policy." 


"No, sir; when we come from Massachusetts on this errand, Ave 
shall not leave a single traitor behind, unless he is hanging on 
a tree." 

"Well, we shall see." 

" You will see ; I know something of the North, and a good deal 
about New England, where I was born and have lived for forty-two 
years. We are pretty quiet there now because we don't believe you 
mean to carry out your threat. We have heard the same story at 
every election these twenty years. Our people don't believe you 
are in earnest. But let me tell you, as sure as you attempt to 
destroy this Union, the North will resist the attempt to its last man 
and its last dollar. You are as certain to fail as there is a God in 
heaven. One thing you may do, you may ruin the Southern 
States, and extinguish your institution of slavery. From the 
moment the first gun is fired on the American flag your slaves will 
not be worth five years' purchase. But as to breaking up the Union, 
it cannot be done. God and nature, and the blood of your fathers 
and mine have made it one, and one country it must and shall 

Afterwards in talking with the South Carolina Commissioners 
who were there to present the ordinance of secession to the Presi- 
dent, a similar conversation occurred : — 

"The North won't fight." 

"The North will fight." 

"If the North fights, its laborers will starve and overturn the 
government. " 

"If the South fights, there is an end of slavery." 

"Do you mean to say that you, yourself, would fight in such 
a cause ? " 

"I would; and by the grace of God, I will." 

Hon. Jeremiah S. Black, Attorney-General of the United States, 
as the legal adviser of the government, gave an opinion that the acts 
and doings of the men of the secession convention of South Carolina 
in voting to secede from the Union was legally definable as a riot, 
for the suppression of which the forces of the United States could 
not be lawfully used. 

As Mr. Black and myself were personal friends, having known 
each other well as lawyers, and having been employed as opposing 


counsel in the Supreme Court, I called upon him for the purpose of 
asking him to advise the President to gain time by submitting the 
question to the Supreme Court, which would give an opportunity 
for the passions of the South to cool, and hand the matter over to 
the next administration, thereby relieving his administration of its 
unhappy predicament. I said to him : — 

"I have read your opinion that the government cannot use its 
army and navy in South Carolina to coerce that State. I do not 
agree with you, but let that pass. Now, secession is either a riot or 
treason. If it be only a riot, the sooner we know that in the highest 
form of knowledge, a decision of the Supreme Court, the better for 
all. If it be treason, then the presenting of an ordinance of secession 
by the commissioners is an overt act of treason. It is an official call 
by the representatives of an armed combination of citizens upon the 
President to demand the surrender of a portion of the territory of 
the United States to a foreign nation. That is an overt act of treason 
of course, at common law. Our own Constitution defines treason to 
consist only in levying war against the. United States, or adhering 
to its enemies and giving them aid and comfort. To present an 
ordinance of secession to the President of the United States would 
be adhering to the enemies of the United States and giving aid and 
comfort to its declared enemies, and hence an overt act of treason. 
Let the President, when the commissioners call upon him for this 
purpose, admit them. Let them present the ordinance. Then let 
the President say to them : « Gentlemen, you are either ambassadors 
from a foreign state, and should be received and treated as such, or 
you are citizens of the United States giving aid and comfort to its 
declared enemies, which is treason. I must receive you in one of 
these two characters or not at all. I think your condition is the 
latter. Gentlemen, you will go hence into the custody of the marshal 
of the United States as prisoners, charged with treason against your 
country. ' Then let a grand jury be summoned here in Washington, 
and indict the commissioners, or let the Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court of the United States, acting as a commissioner, as Marshall did 
in the case of Aaron Burr, examine the question with all the impos- 
ing form and ceremony that attended his trial. Let the Chief Justice 
bind them over to be indicted by a grand jury, and then have the 
matter brought before the full court, as can easily be done, and have 



Engraved from a Portrait. 




them tried, and we shall learn what is the legal character of this act 
of secession. I have some reputation at home as a criminal lawyer, 
and will stay here and help the district attorney through the trial 
without fee or reward. If they are sentenced for treason, execute 
that sentence, and that will stop secession, for the present generation 
at least. If they are acquitted, something will have been done 
toward leaving a clear path to the incoming administration. Time 
will have been gained, and this administration will have put the ques- 
tion in the best form to learn the power and duty of the United 
States as to the rights of secession. And the great advantage will 
be that both sides will pause and watch this high and dignified pro- 
ceeding, the passions of men will cool, the great point at issue will 
become clear to all parties, and the attention of the country will be 
active while passion and prejudice are being stayed. But if you 
cannot use the army of the United States in South Carolina, you can 
use it to preserve order here." 

Mr. Black advised me to put my views before the President, and 
I went to him immediately and made an arrangement for an interview 
for that purpose, at which I laid the matter before him substantially 
in the same form that I had stated it to the attorney-general. Mr. 
Buchanan was a quiet old gentleman and had been for many years 
a trained politician, but to say that he was astounded at the boldness 
of the proposition would be but a feeble description of his condition 
of mind and body. He said in substance : " These men claim to be 
ambassadors, and though we cannot admit the claim, still, they have 
voluntarily placed themselves within our power, and seem to have 
a kind of right to be at least warned away before we can honorably 
treat them as criminals or enemies." 

To this I replied that my object was to have it judicially ascer- 
tained which they were. That they had committed an act of treason 
voluntarily, was certainly no ground for permitting them to escape, 
and if they had not committed treason, they were clearly ambassa- 
dors, and the State from which they came could require the United 
States to indemnify them for all they had suffered. 

Of course it was impossible for a man of Mr. Buchanan's tempera- 
ment and training, however honest and conscientious, to adopt so 
decisive a course. He thought it would lead to great agitation. I 
thought it would stop agitation until the question was determined, and 


whichever way determined it would prevent unauthorized action being 
taken. For, if the commissioners were acquitted on the ground that 
they were ambassadors from a sovereign power, then there was nothing 
to be done except to treat other secession commissioners accordingly. 

It was known at the time that such a proposition had been made, 
and my recollection is that no other commissioners ever came to the 
President to propose such an act of treason. I thought then, and 
still believe, that the question of secession could have been settled 
then in a manner that would have saved life and treasure incalcula- 
ble. No lawyer with whom I have discussed the question since, has 
suggested a legal objection to the plan. l 

I was well acquainted with Mr. Orr, one of the commissioners of 
South Carolina, and I stated to him my proposition as I had laid it 
before the President. Orr replied: "Why, you would not have 
hanged us, would you? " and I answered: "No; not unless you had 
been convicted." 

I was not alarmed at this condition of things, because, as I have 
said, I had foreseen it. But I wished to know if there was any hope 

1 After this was written it occurred to me whether I ought, in justice to myself, to state this 
very advanced position which I had taken with the President, and I knew of no person living 
who was aware of the fact hy whom, if it were denied, it could be substantiated. With some 
misgivings it was put in type. Afterwards when travelling in a car with General John Cochrane, 
of New York, a very distinguished Tammany politician and a warm friend of General McClellan, 
and chatting over matters which were of interest when we were political friends, he said to me : 
" I suppose you are not aware that I witnessed a very remarkable scene between yourself and 
President Buchanan in the latter part of December, 1860, when I met you in Washington." I 
said I did not know that he had seen anything between Mr. Buchanan and myself. He answered 
that he had, and added : " You told me that you intended to advise Buchanan to treat Barnwell, 
Adams, and Orr, — the commissioners appointed by South Carolina to present the ordinance of 
secession to the President, — as traitors guilty of an overt act of treason; and that another 
audience had been granted you by the President for Monday morning at ten o'clock for that pur- 
pose. I determined to be there ; and going up soon after ten o 'clock I got a sight of that inter- 
view and it impressed itself upon my mind very strongly, and I have told it many times since to 
different friends." " Ah," 1 said, " I did not know that you knew anything about it." " Yes, 
General, I did." I said to him: " Will you kindly write me a note of your remembrance of the 
scene, as I wish to preserve some evidence of it? " w I will if you desire it," said he. In a few 
days I received a note from the general, from which I extract the following : — 

Brookside, Morris Co., New Jersey. 

July 11, 1891. 

My Dear General : — I met you casually on Penna. Ave., when you told me your purpose. You 
said that the commissioners ought to be hanged, and that you should urge it upon the President. 
You named the hour of the next morning for which your interview with him was arranged. 

I determined if possible to witness it, and going accordingly to the Executive Mansion the 
next morning, 1 quietly opened the door and looked into the President's reception room, where 
an impressive tableau was being enacted. You sat directly facing the President, as if in the act 
of speaking to him. The President sat in his chair upright but blanched. The view was instan- 
taneous ; and unwilling to disturb its surprising effect, I at once closed the door, and have ever 
since preserved in my mind the photographed scene: — Your attitude was aggressive, and the 
posture of the President denoted amazement struggling with fear. I concluded that you had 
.-just discharged at him your demand that the commissioners be hanged and that the President's 
appearance indicated its prostrating effect unon him. 

In the course of one of those initial stages of the Rebellion, the President once said to me 
that he was the last President of the United States. Sincerely yours, John Cochrane. 




Washington Scenes in 1861. 

1 Pennsylvania Avenue looking towards Capitol. i^ fnTP War 

I. War Department Building before War. 3. Navy Department Building before Wax. 


of relief therefrom. Accordingly, I wrote a note to Jefferson Davis, 
then a member of the Senate, soliciting an interview. He sent me a 
card inviting me to take tea with him on that evening, as lie would 
be alone. Accordingly I went, and was hospitably and quietly 
received, and a conversation of several hours followed, in which the 
whole situation was discussed. That interview convinced me that 
war was inevitable. 

I do not rehearse this conversation at length, because a private 
conversation between friends is not a proper subject for publication. 
Yet I think I may say without offending that etiquette, that I asked 
him how he could justify himself in joining the South in breach of 
his oath of allegiance to the United States. He answered : " My first 
oath of allegiance is to the State of Mississippi, and my allegiance 
to the State of Mississippi overrides any allegiance to the United 

''Then," I said, "I suppose if Mississippi votes to go out of the 
Union, you go with her? " 

" Yes, I must go with my State." 

The interview was a serious and sad one. He said to me : " Will 
you come with us? " 

"No; I shall go with my State because of my allegiance to the 
United States." 

"Is it possible, then," said he with some tremor in his voice, "that 
we shall meet hereafter as enemies? " 

" That depends upon yourself ; it would be to my great regret." 

We shook hands and parted, and I never afterwards saw him, 
which was a piece of good fortune to him ; for if we had met while 
I was in command in the United States army, he would have been 
saved a great deal of the discomfort which he suffered by being 
confined in prison. 

I had been about Washington more or less for several years, and 
had many acquaintances in the city. Knowing that I had been 
a Democrat, these friends now talked very freely, not as if matters 
were to be kept secret, but as if they were speaking of matters 
known by all. I invited a Washington friend, a citizen of Washing- 
ton, to dine with me at my hotel. After dinner, he said : " Let us 
take a walk and I will show you something of what we mean to do." 
We took our cigars and walked up Fifteenth Street to K Street, and 


out towards Georgetown as far as the locality where the house of the 
British Minister now is. There he took me to certain sheds, which 
looked like market sheds. They were long, low buildings, and, as 
it appeared by looking though the cracks, were dimly lighted. He 
took me to the farther end of one of them, and there, looking 
through a small aperture which I reached by standing upon a keg, 
I saw from seventy -five to one hundred men drilling with arms, and 
I heard the commands of the school of the soldier, such as are given 
in military drill. 

I stepped down and said: "Well, what is all this about? " 

"We are getting ready for the 4th of March," said he. 

"Drilling a company of the district militia to escort Lincoln? ,: 

"Yes," said he with a laugh, "they may escort Lincoln, but I 
guess not in the direction of the White House." 

I looked at him and said : " You are not in earnest." 

"Never more in earnest in my life. We don't intend to have the 
black Republican (I don't remember the offensive term) inaug- 
urated to rule over us here in Washington." 

I walked along in silence for a short time, and then said : " Let 
me adjure you to be very careful in what you are doing. That 
would be treason and war, which will level Washington with the 
dust if it is undertaken." 

"Oh," he said, "there will be no trouble about it." And having 
neared the street that he should turn down to reach his home, we 
shook hands and parted. 

I saw him once afterwards, but it was in the Old Capitol Prison. 

I looked for other indications of the temper of the people in 
Washington. I talked with some of the ladies, and they were out- 
spoken as to what would happen to Lincoln if he ever came to the 




JLLED with apprehension, I returned to Boston about 
the 28th of December, being delayed one day in a, 
snowstorm. I felt it my duty immediately to calL 
upon Governor Andrew, and state to him that I 
believed there was to be an attempt, on the 4th of 
March, to prevent, by armed force, the inauguration 
of Lincoln, in Washington ; and that it seemed to me 
that Massachusetts should be prepared to meet such a crisis, by 
having her militia ready to march to the aid of the government. 

I explained to him that while we were quite well equipped with 
arms for service, yet there was not to my knowledge a military over- 
coat in the possession of any volunteer soldier, except some fancy 
overcoats owned by two or three of the city companies ; that the 4th 
of March was a very inclement season in Washington, and that it 
would be utterly impossible for the troops to go without overcoats. 
Besides, there was not, to my knowledge, a haversack among the 
equipments of our soldiers in which rations could be carried, and 
their uniforms were holiday affairs, which might, however, stand 
the rough usage of a short campaign. 

I then called to his mind the fact that our volunteer soldiers were 
largely young men, and pretty largely young Democrats, and sug- 
gested that if they were called upon to march by the order of a 
Republican governor to fight their party associates, they might 
hesitate. Said he : — 

"How can this be obviated? " 

"Let each company," I replied, "be quietly called to its armory, 
and the question put to every soldier, "Are you ready to march, 
when called upon to defend the national capital? ' I think the 



adjutant-general should be instructed to have this proceeding taken 
at once, but with great secrecy. In my brigade, I will see that the 
order is fully executed, and I will report to you when the brigade is 
ready to march. I hope that you will ask the legislature in secret 
session, — because we don't want to show any alarm, — to provide 
you with an emergency fund out of which these necessary articles 
can be procured/' 

He was somewhat incredulous, and thought I was unnecessarily 
moved. I told him it would do no harm to equip our soldiers prop- 
erly, and also to ascertain their readiness and willingness to march, 
as it might do great harm not to have them in full readiness, since 
it was the firm belief of many in the South that a portion of our 
soldiers would not fight. 

I had several interviews with Governor Andrew upon these topics 
at his suggestion, and on the 16th of January General Order No. 4 
was issued in the words following: : — 

Headquarters, Boston, January 16, 1861. 
General Order No. 4. 

Events which have recently occurred, and are now in progress, require 
that Massachusetts should be at all times ready to furnish her quota of 
troops upon any requisition of the President of the United States to aid 
in the maintenance of the laws and the peace of the Union. His excellency 
the commander-in-chief therefore orders : 

That the commanding officer of each company of volunteer militia 
examine with care the roll of his company, and cause the name of each 
member, together with his rank and place of residence, to be properly 
recorded and a copy of the same to be forwarded to the office of the 
adjutant-general. Previous to which commanders of companies shall 
make strict inquiry whether there are men in their commands who, from 
age, physical defect, business or family causes, may be unable or indis- 
posed to respond at once to the orders of the commander-in-chief made 
in response to the call of the President of the United States ; that they 
be forthwith discharged, so that their places may be filled by men ready 
for any public exigency which may arise, whenever called upon. 

That order was distributed to the commanders of the militia. It 
came to Lowell, and our enlisted men and their arms and equipments 
were examined, and the questions embraced in the order were put 
to every n^in. Col. Edward F. Jones, in command of the Sixth 



Regiment, and myself a part of the time, were present at the 
examination; and to the honor of the Lowell militia, no able-bodied 
man of suitable years said he would not go if called upon, and we 
so reported. 

On the 19th of January, 1861, the following resolution, passed 
by the field officers and commanders of companies of the Sixth Regi- 
ment, was sent to the governor : — 

Resolved, That Colonel Jones be authorized and requested forthwith to 
tender the services of the Sixth Regiment to the commander-in-chief and 
legislature, when such services may become desirable, for the purposes 
contemplated in General Order No. 4. 

That resolution went to the governor on the 2 2d of January, and 
on the same day Governor Andrew sent the following message to the 
House of Representatives : — 

I transmit herewith, for the information of the General Court, a 
communication offering to the commander-in-chief and the legislature 
the services of the Sixth Regiment, Third Brigade, Second Division of the 
Volunteer Militia of the Commonwealth, which was this day received by 
me from the hands of Brigadier-General Butler. 

This was the only regiment that tendered its services. Not that 
all would not have done so if they had had an opportunity or full 
instruction ; but in Lowell about that time there happened to be a 
couple of live men, — Colonel Jones, who is now the lieutenant- 
governor of the great State of New York, and myself, — who believed 
beyond peradventure that we should soon be called upon. 

In accordance with this message of the governor, the legislature 
on the 23d day of January, passed a resolve, a portion of which is as 
follows : — 

Whereas, Several States of the Union have through the action of 
their people and authorities assumed the attitude of rebellion against the 
national government; and whereas, treason is still more extensively 
diffused ; and whereas, the State of South Carolina, having first seized 
the Post-Office, Custom House, moneys, arms, munitions of war, and 
fortifications of the Federal Government, has, by firing upon a vessel in 
the service of the United States, committed an act of war ; and whereas, 
the forts and property of the United States, in Georgia, Alabama, 


Louisiana, and Florida have been seized with hostile and treasonable 
intention ; and whereas, senators and representatives in Congress avow 
and sanction these acts of treason and rebellion ; therefore, 

Resolved, That the legislature of Massachusetts now, as always, con- 
vinced of the inestimable value of the Union, as the necessity of preserv- 
ing its blessing to ourselves and our posterity, regard with unmingled 
satisfaction the determination evinced in the recent firm and patriotic 
special message of the President of the United States to apply and 
faithfully discharge his constitutional duty of enforcing the laws and 
preserving the integrity of the Union, and Ave proffer to him, through the 
Governor of the Commonwealth, such aid in men and money as he may 
require, to maintain the authority of the national government. 

Resolved, That the Union-loving and patriotic authorities, representa- 
tives, and citizens of those States whose loyalty is endangered or assailed 
by internal or external treason, who labor in behalf of the Federal Union 
with unflinching courage and patriotic devotion, will receive the enduring 
gratitude of the American people. 

Resolved, That the governor be requested to forward, forthwith, copies 
of the foregoing resolutions to the President of the United States and 
the governors of the several States. 

These resolutions followed the message to Congress of President 
Buchanan. So the matter stood until the 5th of February, when 
Mr. Tyler, of Boston, for the Committee on Finance, reported that 
an emergency bill ought to pass, and said that the committee had 
received information of an alarming character, which rendered it 
necessary that the Executive should at once be provided with means 
of defence. Mr. Slack said he supposed he violated no confidence 
in saying that within the last twenty -four hours the Finance Com- 
mittee had received the most alarming information. It might be 
that an attack would be made upon Washington, within the next 
fifteen days. Mr. Davis, of Greenfield, said he was in favor of the 
bill, but thought the information could not properly be communicated 
to the public, and he therefore moved that the House go into secret 
session. The motion was agreed to, and sitting with closed doors, 
the House passed the bill, as follows : — 

There is hereby appropriated the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, 
to be designated as the Emergency Fund, which shall be paid out 
of the treasury of this Commonwealth, from ordinary revenue, on any 


warrants of the governor, which may be drawn from time to time, for 
such amounts, not exceeding in the aggregate one hundred thousand 
dollars, as in the judgment of the governor, by and with the consent of the 
council, may be necessary for the public service : Provided, that no part 
of this sum shall be expended for services or objects for which there are 
or may be subsisting appropriations contained in any act or resolve which 
has been or may be passed at the present session of the General Court ; 
and an account shall be rendered to the next General Court, on or before 
the 15th day of January next, of the manner in which said fund, or any 
part thereof, has been disbursed. 

This act shall take effect upon its passage. 

Although not a member of the legislature, I was present in that 
secret session, and gave such testimony as I had. That emergency 
bill was passed on the 5th of February, appropriating a hundred 
thousand dollars as an emergency fund to put the militia in proper 
readiness for war. 

Colonel Jones went with me to tell the governor that his regiment 
and my brigade, while in as good condition as any other part of the 
militia, were in such plight that they could not march out of the 
State , that the men had only holiday uniforms, and must be fur- 
nished with overcoats, knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, and other 
needed equipments for camping. The governor said: "Put that 
information in writing." Whereupon Colonel Jones wrote this able 
and opportune letter : — 

Boston, Feb. 5, 1861. 

To His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief : 

At our interview this morning, you requested me to put the matter 
which I wished to communicate in writing. In accordance therewith, I 
make the following statement as to the condition of my command, and 
take the liberty to forward the same directly to you, passing over the 
usual channel of communication for want of time. 

The Sixth Regiment consists of eight companies, located as follows, viz. : 
Four in Lowell, two in Lawrence, one in Acton, and one in Boston, made up 
mostly of men of families, " who earn their bread by the sweat of their 
brow," men who are willing to leave their homes, families, and all that man 
holds dear, and sacrifice their present and future as a matter of duty. 

Four companies of the regiment are insufficiently armed (as to quantity) 
with a serviceable rifle musket; the other four with the old musket, 


which is not a safe or serviceable arm, and requiring a different cartridge 
from the first, which would make confusion in the distribution of ammu- 

Two companies are without uniforms, having worn them out, and were 
proposing to have new the ensuing spring. Six companies and the band 
have company uniforms of different colors and styles, but insufficient in 
numbers, and which are entirely unfit for actual service, from the fact 
that they are made of fine cloth, more for show and the attractive appear- 
ance of the company on parade than any other purpose, being cut tight to 
the form and in fashionable style. 

I would (after being properly armed and equipped) suggest our actual 
necessary wants, viz., a cap, frock coat, pantaloons, boots, overcoat, 
knapsack, and blanket to each man, of heavy, serviceable material, cut 
sufficiently loose and made strongly, to stand the necessities of the 
service. Such is our position, and I think it is a fair representation of 
the condition of most of the troops in the State. Their health and their 
efficiency depend greatly upon their comfort. 

My command is not able pecuniarily to put themselves in the necessary 
condition, and should they, as a matter of right and justice, be asked so 
to do, even were they able ? What is the cost in money to the State of 
Massachusetts, when compared to the sacrifices we are called upon to make ? 


Edward F. Jones, 

Colonel Sixth Regiment. 

P. S. I would also suggest that it would require from ten to fourteen 
days as the shortest possible time within which my command could be 
put in marching order. 

The adjutant-general at once by telegraph asked for proposals to 
t furnish cloth for two thousand overcoats, and it fell to the lot of a 
Lowell corporation — the Middlesex Company — to have the means 
of furnishing this on the same 5th of February. 

The outfits of these men were prepared with the utmost diligence. 

The South evidently desiied to gain time, as it was not in any 
• readiness to make an attack on Washington on the 4th of March. 
Floyd, who was Secretary of War under Buchanan, aided to make 
ready the Southern States, by ordering large quantities of arms to be 
sent South, both small arms and ordnance, and this was continued 
up to the time he left his office, on the 4th day of March. 


Many of the Southern senators resigned earlier, but Floyd took 
care to hold on to his office, so as to be purveyor of military supplies 
of the United States to the South as long as he could. 

As a means by which time was gained, the State of Virginia 
expressed a desire to meet her sister States in convention in Wash- 
ington. This gathering was commonly called the "Peace Conven- 
tion, " and it resulted, of course, in nothing but talk (and some of it 
very foolish talk), and the desired delay. Ex-President John Tyler, 
of Virginia, had learned that the commandant at Fortress Monroe was 
mounting a heavy piece of ordnance on the ramparts, pointing over- 
land, most of the ordnance being directed to the sea. Whereupon 
T}der called the attention of the "Peace Convention," in a florid 
speech, to the fact that the United States was mounting a gun on 
Fortress Monroe, the muzzle of which pointed over "the sacred soil 
of Virginia." 

On the same 5th of February, it was resolved by the Massachusetts 
legislature as follows : — 

Whereas, Questions of grave moment have arisen touching the powers 
of the government and the relations between the different States of the 
Union ; and, 

Whereas, The State of Virginia has expressed a desire to meet her 
sister States in convention at Washington ; therefore, 

Resolved, That the Governor of this Commonwealth, by and with the 
advice and consent of the council, be and he hereby is, authorized to 
appoint seven persons as commissioners, to proceed to Washington to 
confer with the General Government, or with the separate States, or with 
any association of delegates from such States, and to report their doings 
to the legislature at its present session. 

The resolution expressly declared that the acts of the commission 
should at all times be under the control and subject to the approval 
or rejection of the legislature. 

This commission reported on the 25th of March that it had 
finished its work, the convention not having amounted to anything 
except to convince the unthinking that the whole trouble would 
end in smoke. There was no emeute or interference with Lincoln's 
tiip to Washington and his inauguration, except that he was obliged 
to smuggle himself through in the night-time to escape assassination, 
travelling alone at an unusual hour, so that his passage through 


Baltimore was not expected or known. As the South was not yet 
ready to march on Washington, and as Mr. Lincoln's inaugural 
address purposely under the advice of Seward left it wholly uncer- 
tain whether he would attempt to retake Forts Pickens and Moultrie, 
it became a very important question who should strike the first blow, 
and when and where it should be struck. 

It was thought best to wait for the South to strike it at Sumter, 
where some three thousand armed men had been assembled, and 
batteries erected with which to defend Charleston and attack 

This state of things so far satisfied our legislature that war was 
neither near nor probable, that on the 10th day of April it repealed 
unanimously, so far as any roll call shows, the emergency appropria- 
tion, leaving only money enough to pay for the expenditures already 

How well I remember the tone of the articles in the newspapers at 
this time, which accused me of a desire to feed the moths with over- 
coats, and praised my shrewdness in getting up the scare so as to get 
for the company in which I was a stockholder the contract for cloth 
to feed the insects. 

On the 11th day of April, the legislature, having practically 
disarmed the Commonwealth (for its troops could not be moved 
without the expenditure of appropriated money), adjourned with- 
out delay, and went home in happiness, at the bright prospect of 
lasting peace. 

Another event happened on that same 11th day of April, which 
showed how little the legislature of Massachusetts knew of the con- 
dition of the country, and of the determination of the South to make 
war. The rebels opened fire on Fort Sumter. 

Gen. William Schouler, who was the first adjutant-general 
appointed by Governor Andrew, and who remained in that office 
during the war, published a book in 1869, entitled "The History of 
Massachusetts in the Civil War," in which he relates with great 
particularity, all that he claims was done in Massachusetts to prepare 
her to take her illustrious part in the contest, which was begun on 
the 11th of April, 1861. It is well known that an unfortunate 
variance of opinion occurred between Governor Andrew and myself, 
arising out # of an offer of the services of myself and troops to 


Governor Hicks, of Maryland, on the 21st day of April, 1861, when 
at the capital of Maryland, to put down a threatened negro insurrec- 
tion. Of that I shall speak hereafter more at length. In consequence 
of this antagonism, Schouler makes no mention of any efforts of my- 
self or my friend, Colonel Jones, to put the troops in perfect order, 
or to have anything done which would enable the Massachusetts 
troops to be first of all to get into the field. 

The military correspondence of Governor Andrew was so manipu- 
lated, presumably after his death, as to extinguish, as far as possible, any 
memory of the poor services I had rendered, as above documentarily 
shown. When I became Governor of the Commonwealth, in 1883, I 
found in the executive office at the State House, several large volumes 
purporting to contain all the military correspondence of Governor 
Andrew, copied out in the best manner. Curiously enough, that copy 
begins on the 15th day of April, 1861, and omits all that passed 
between Governor Andrew and myself, and all that Governor Andrew 
had written to me or about me previously to my leaving for the field 
on the evening of the 18th of April. So that there appears no word 
in these copies that will give any information to anyone who should 
seek the history of what I did or tried to do before that date in aiding 
to prepare Massachusetts and her troops for the war. 

Of course, Mr. Schouler ex industria omits all reference to me, 
except to state the fact that I was detailed as brigadier-general to 
command the brigade which first went to the war. I may be par- 
doned, therefore, in order that the truth of history may be set forth, 
for recalling attention to the documents which show what I had 
done, as well as to my statement of what I had done, because if as to 
the last my memory should have failed me, which I do not think 
possible, the documentary evidence is irreversible. 

It appears, then, that upon the very first days of January, even be- 
fore his inauguration, I reported the condition of things to Governor 
Andrew, and urged the necessity that our troops should be put in 
full readiness to march. 

On the 19th of January, in my brigade, resolutions were passed 
tendering the services of my home regiment to Governor Andrew 
and the legislature. 

On January 22 those resolutions were received by Governor 
Andrew, and immediately communicated to the legislature as being 


received from my hands. On the 5th of February, the legislature 
appropriated one hundred thousand dollars to put the troops in 
readiness and provide for their transportation. This emergency 
bill was passed at a secret session, at which I was present to give 
information to the legislature. 

On the same 5th of February the governor and council authorized the 
making of contracts to supply the troops with equipments and clothing. 

So that it is a matter of history that I took part in all that was 
done to have Massachusetts ready for the war, and Schouler did all 
he could to have those facts forgotten. 

On the 15th of April, Cameron, Secretary of War, sent a requisi- 
tion by telegraph to Governor Andrew, to send forward at once 
fifteen hundred men, and in the course of the same day a formal 
request was received for two full regiments. 

On that day I was trying a case before a court in Boston. As I sat 
at the trial table the order was placed in my hands, as brigadier-general, 
that the Sixth Regiment of my brigade should report at Faneuil Hall, 
on the morning of the 16th. That regiment was distributed over an 
extent of territory nearly forty miles square. After glancing over 
the order, I arose, and said to the presiding justice : — 

U I am called to prepare troops to be sent to Washington, and I 
must ask the court to postpone this case." 

This was immediately done, and I left the court house at quarter 
before five, in time to reach my headquarters at Lowell by the five 
o'clock train. 

And that case, so continued, remains unfinished to this day. 

Being well acquainted with Secretary Cameron, as we had been 
Democrats together in the former years, I telegraphed him through 
Senator Wilson, then chairman of the Committee on Military 
Affairs : — 

You have called for a brigade of Massachusetts troops ; why not call 
for a brigadier-general and staff? I have some hope of being detailed. 

During the night a requisition came to the governor for a briga- 
dier-general, and I was notified by telegraph from Washington that 
such requisition had been made. 

As will be seen by those who read these pages, I was fully 
acquainted with the financial condition of Massachusetts in regard 


to its appropriations, and I knew that under the law no money in 
the treasury could be used for the purpose of moving troops, until 
appropriation could be made by the legislature, which had ad- 
journed. While reflecting upon this in the train on my way to 
Boston next day, I observed in the same car with me James G. 
Carney, Esq., president of the Bank of Mutual Redemption, of 
Boston, who lived in Lowell, and was going down to his duties. 
I took a seat near him, and explained the situation, as I have above 
stated it, and asked him if it were not possible for his bank to allow 
the governor to draw upon it for money to a considerable amount in 
order to put the troops in motion; and if it could be done, I desired to 
take to the governor a letter making the tender. I also asked him 
if he would recommend my detail as brigadier-general. He assured 
me that he would see if the money could be tendered, and I took a 
carriage with him, and rode down to his bank. On our arrival, Mr. 
Carney wrote the following letter, which I carried to the governor: — 

Bank of Mutual Redemption, 

Boston, Mass., April 16, 1861. 
His Excellency, John A. Andrew, 

Governor : 

Sir : — Supposing it to be not impossible that the sudden exigencies of 
the case may call for the use of more money than may be at the immediate 
command of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, in the treasury, I 
write to offer to place to the credit of the State, the extreme amount the 
law now allows us to loan it, and remain, 

Very respectfully, 

Your ob. st., 

Jas. G. Carney, Brest. 

Mr. Carney also said he would himself go around to the other 
banks, and see if they would not all make a like offer. He told me 
he did this, and the result was that there was more than three and 
a half million dollars to the credit of the Commonwealth, upon 
a draft of the governor, before night. 

With President Carney's letter in my possession, I went to Gov- 
ernor Andrew, and asked him to detail me to command the troops 
that were to go to the seat of war. The governor received me very 
kindly and said : — 



"General, there is a difficulty; we have two brigadier-generals 
in the militia who are your seniors, and one of them, General 
Peirce, is now outside, I suppose waiting to see me to ask for the 

"Well, Governor," I said, "you know Brigadier-General Peirce, 
and you know me. Isn't this a case where the officer should be 
appointed who is supposed to be most instructed in affairs with 
which he is to deal? " 

laasfflffl&Wm SfctoW*:^ Copyrighted. 

Massachusetts State House, Beacon Hill (Boston). 

"I suppose I can detail any brigadier," said the governor. 

"So do I," said I. 

While this conversation was going on, the Treasurer of the Com- 
monwealth, Gen. Henry K. Oliver, came into the governor's room, 
and after salutation, said : — 

" Governor, as you requested, I have been examining the condition of 
the affairs of the treasury since the repeal of the emergency act, and I 
cannot find a single dollar appropriated for transporting these troops 
that yow. have ordered out, and other like expenses. You will have to 
call an extra session of the legislature, and that will delay matters very 


considerably, and we understand by the telegram that there is 
great urgency for haste in getting troops to Washington." The 
governor said: "What shall we do? " Oliver answered : "We shall 
have to call a meeting of the legislature, and get an appropriation, 
but that will delay matters considerably. Perhaps we can use our 
current income." , 

"Governor," said I, "I was aware of this condition of things, and 
I can remedy it. Coming down in the cars, I saw President Carney 
of the Bank of Mutual Redemption, and he has authorized me to say 
that fifty thousand dollars of the funds of that bank is at the disposal 
of the Commonwealth, and that the other banks will answer drafts to 
that amount, and he recommends that I. be selected as the brigadier 
to take command. Here is his letter." 

Oliver said : — 

"Well, Governor, as General Butler has found the means to go, 
I think he ought to go." 

"I don't know but he had," said the governor; "I will take it into 

I believed then that the matter the governor wanted to consider 
was whether it would do to send me, I having been the Breckenridge 
candidate against him at his election. 

Later in the day I received the detail. With the leave of the 
governor, I established my headquarters in a room in the State 
House, and from that time the business of organizing and getting the 
troops ready to go forward was turned over to me. 

Meanwhile, a direction came from Washington to send two regi- 
ments to Fortress Monroe, which was supposed to be threatened by 
the Confederates in Virginia. Indeed, a battery had then been 
commenced on the shore of Hampton Creek, opposite the fort, and 
a very curious letter was written to Colonel Dimmick, who was in 
command, which I saw afterwards, asking if the ladies of Hampton 
threw up a battery there, whether he would fire upon them while 
doing the work. That puzzled the gallant old colonel, as he told 
me, but he I'eturned an answer in substance, that he could not allow 
anybody to erect a battery within the reach of the guns of Fortress 
Monroe, but that he would refer the matter to Washington. 

Transportation being furnished by water for the troops, the Third 
and Fourth Regiments sailed, one on the 17th of April, and one on 


the morning of the 18th. The latter regiment arrived at Fortress 
Monroe on the 20th. 

It was agreed that Colonel Jones' regiment, strengthened by 
the addition of two companies, should march as soon as possible, 
and he took the cars on the night of the 17th of April. His 
route to New York was an ovation. His reception there was 
one of extravagant and tumultuous joy. By the invitation of 
Mr. Stetson, the host of the Astor House, his regiment was treated 
to a sumptuous breakfast, and at eleven o'clock, on the 18th, 
they took the cars for Philadelphia, arriving there at night. The 
authorities and citizens of Philadelphia encamped them at the 
Girard House. They were under orders to go to Washington via 
Baltimore, and not a word had been said to them or to anybody 
else, that the route through Baltimore was not open. The direct 
orders from the Secretary of War to Governor Andrew being that 
they should go through Baltimore, they left Philadelphia for Balti- 
more, arriving on the 19th. 

I stayed behind to see that the other two regiments sailed for 
Fortress Monroe, and to finish all needed preparations, and to wait 
for the Eighth Regiment, under Col. Timothy Munroe, to get in 
readiness with equipments. 

During the 18th of April, the utmost diligence was used. In the 
afternoon the regiment was paraded before the State House, where 
Governor Andrew made a very appropriate, patriotic, and brilliant 
address, to which I added a few words. While we were speaking to 
the soldiers, the tailors busied themselves in the rear of the regiment, 
sewing the buttons on the backs of the overcoats of the men. 

There was still another reason for the delay of the day. The rail- 
road company found it difficult to provide suitable cars, the weather 
being cold, sufficient to transport the regiment. It was then about 
nine hundred strong, and it was to have another company added to 
it when we reached Springfield, — that of Capt. Henry S. Briggs. 

We left Boston at six o'clock, and were received everywhere on 
the route with loud plaudits, cheers, and the blessings of all the 
good people. We arrived at Springfield somewhere between nine 
and ten o'clock, where Captain Briggs' company, from Pittsfield, 
joined us. Here we were welcomed in the most friendly manner, 
and here, too, an incident occurred which gave me personally very 


much pleasure. My old colleague in the Charleston convention, 
Mr. Chapin, the president of the Boston & Albany Railroad, a firm 
old Democrat, met me with great cordiality, thanking me for what 
I was doing, and offering to provide every facility for our transporta- 
tion to New York. I remember he apologized to me for not having 
a sleeping-car at his disposal in which myself and officers could be 
accommodated. As it was, I tested early the discomforts of cam- 
paigning by sitting up in the cars all night. 

We arrived in the morning at New York in good health, and the 
regiment accepted the invitation of Mr. Stetson to breakfast with 
him at the Astor House. Myself and staff accepted a like invitation 
from Mr. Paran Stevens, the landlord of the Fifth Avenue Hotel. 
There I first met Senator Baker, of Oregon, afterwards General 
Baker, and who was detailed to me at Fortress Monroe. As we stood 
together on the balcony of the hotel, my regiment passed by, cheering 
me very lustily. Baker, who had been in the Mexican War, turned 
to me and said : " All very well, General, for them to cheer you when 
they go out, but take care of them so that they will cheer you on 
their return." 

We embarked at Jersey City about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, 
as soon as the trains could be prepared. There was a little delay 
there because the railroad people said they could not get cars to carry 
us without discommoding their passenger trains; and I said to the 
official that we must go whether the passenger trains went or not. 
With some hesitation he yielded to necessity. 

We arrived at Philadelphia between four and five o'clock in the 
evening, and the regiment was quartered at the Girard House. 
Upon invitation of Mr. Stevens, myself and staff took quarters at the 

As soon as I got to my hotel, the extras of the Philadelphia Press 
were brought to me, containing accounts of what was supposed to 
have happened to the Sixth Regiment in Baltimore. These were 
sufficiently distressing, because at first the telegrams were that the 
regiment, or a large portion of it, had been captured in Baltimore. 
If that were a fact, it was a question of duty whether I ought not to 
go through and rescue them. But later in the evening I got more 
reliable information, which I transmitted by telegraph to Governor 


While the attack upon the Sixth Regiment in its march through 
Baltimore was in fact of small moment, in view of the subsequent 
events of the war, yet it was an event that had so much effect 
upon the country and upon public sentiment that it is well enough 
that an authentic history of it should be preserved. I therefore 
give a condensed statement from an account of Colonel Jones, now 
lieutenant-governor of New York. 

The Sixth arrived at Philadelphia on the afternoon of the 18th of 
April, and was bivouacked at the Girard House. The officer stationed 
there to furnish sustenance and means of transportation and further 
orders as to their proceeding, was so impressed with fear that the troops 
would be assaulted if they should attempt to pass through Baltimore 
that he declined to take the responsibility of ordering Colonel Jones 
to proceed, and left him to deteimine the question. Jones at once 
said that his orders were to get to Washington as soon as possible, 
and that he must therefore proceed at once, if transportation could 
be procured. Thereupon General Davis warmly shook the colonel's 
hand and replied: "While I won't give you the order to go, yet if 
you go I will go with you," and he did. 

Jones then applied to Felton, the president of the Wilmington & 
Baltimore Railroad, who advised the colonel that it would be better not 
to go through Baltimore in the night time, as he was quite certain from 
reports that his march would be opposed, but to take the train very early 
in the morning. Jones then said to Felton : " I am willing to lose as 
many men as necessary in conflict, but I don't want them murdered in a 
railroad accident. Will the railroad therefore see that the bridges are 
guarded, the road watched, and a pilot engine run a short distance ahead 
of us, the train running at a slow speed ? " To this Felton assented. 

Soon after midnight Jones embarked his men on a train of ten cars 
and started. Nothing occurred until the train passed the ferry at 
Havre de Grace, about two or three hours from Baltimore. Jones 
then went through each car and gave distinct orders to the men, 
telling them that they might be assaulted in Baltimore, but whatever 
was done to them either by abuse or by missiles thrown, they should 
not fire until they were fired upon, and then only at the command of 
an officer, and to take their aim at the men actually firing. 

At that time the cars were hauled through Baltimore by horses. 
But it Ijad been arranged between the colonel and the railroad 

Wheeling into 15th St. from Pennsylvania Ave. 

Gkand Parade, Eeview of the Union Ailmi 

From James E 

! Washington, D. C, at the Close of the War. 

[dor's Paintings. 

May 23 and 24, 1865. 


officials that his regiment should march by the shortest route through 
the city from the station at which the train entered to the Camden 
station, as the railroad could not undertake to carry them through 
in the cars. 

Owing to the early hour at which the arrival at Baltimore would 
take place, and to the fact that telegraphic communications showed 
that there was no mob then in waiting, the railroad officials changed 
their purpose and concluded to take the regiment through in the cars, 
but did not inform Colonel Jones of that change of plan. When the 
cars stopped the colonel jumped from the first car for the purpose of 
re-forming the regiment. It had been in due order in the train, but 
had been disordered by the shifting of the cars at the ferry. 

Instantly upon the stopping of the train the horses had been 
hitched on to the first car, and it started on. Horses were then 
hitched to the next car, and so on to the third, when the colonel 
was told of this change in the mode of transportation. Thereupon 
he sprang upon the next car going and went on, there being no 
appearance of any special difficulty at that time. With great 
despatch seven of the cars were drawn through to the Camden station, 
without detention. The three later cars were opposed on Pratt 
Street by a mob which had gathered there, and the cars were pre- 
vented from proceeding further. 

Thereupon the troops disembarked and commenced their march 
in columns of sections. They were immediately assailed, at first 
with every sort of verbal abuse, then smaller missiles were thrown 
and then larger ones. The troops marched steadily forward. At 
length some pistol shots were fired, and then other shots, and one 
man in the front section fell dead. Thereupon the officer in com- 
mand gave the order to fire. Then, when the way was partially 
cleared, the movement was increased to quick step. 

Up to this time the mob evidently thought that the troops had no 
pistols and no ammunition in their guns. The firing finally became 
general. Six of our men were killed and thirty were wounded. 
The band, which was in the rear, had been cut off when the troops 
arrived at Camden station. 

The first intimation that Colonel Jones received of trouble of any 
sort was by a man reporting to a government official who stood 
beside him, that there was trouble with the troops. The next 


report was that the troops were firing upon the citizens ; and imme- 
diately the head of the attacked column appeared at the station. 
The first inclination in Colonel Jones' mind was to form his men 
and march out into the square adjoining the station, which was now 
filled with an infuriated mob, and avenge his soldiers. When he 
disclosed that intention to the railroad men, they besought him in 
the most anxious terms, "For God's sake not to do that." That did 
not change his purpose ; but at the same moment a telegram was put 
in his hand addressed to him from General Scott, in these words : — 

Let there be no possible delay in your coming. 

This to a soldier was an order; and whatever Colonel Jones' 
feelings or wishes may have been, he did not feel at liberty to 
disregard that order, especially as the master of transportation, a 
good, true, and loyal man, William P. Smith, said: "For God's 
sake, give the order for the cars to move; the mob is already 
trying to tear the tracks up in front of us. If you don't, no one 
of your men will leave here alive." Thereupon Colonel Jones 
gave the order. 

The train started and went on a short distance. Then it stopped, 
and the conductor informed the colonel that he could take the train 
no further toward Washington. "Very well," said Colonel Jones, 
" I paid for being carried there and shall go, and I have men that can 
run your engine and train as well as you can." The conductor started 
the train once more, and there was no further interference with the 
progress of the troops, although Mr. Smith had information, as he 
said to Colonel Jones, that the rebels were attempting to blow up 
the viaduct at the Relay House. 

When the regiment arrived in Washington President Lincoln met 
it at the depot. He shook Colonel Jones warmly by the hand, and 
said : " Thank God, you have come ; for if you had not Washington 
would have been in the hands of the rebels before morning." 

Colonel Jones was afterwards in command of the Relay House, where 
I left him after the taking of Baltimore. There he remained until 
his term of service expired. Then he re-enlisted his regiment, 
as we shall see, and served with me during the Campaign of 
the Gulf, .where his personal services as a commander were of the 
highest order. 


His political opponents have criticised him because he was in a 
place of safety at the time this riot was going on in Baltimore. He 
was where he should have been, at the head of his regiment, and 
he had no intimation that there was any more dangerous place than 
that until it was too late to act. No one not a newspaper editor 
or a stump orator who did not take part in the war ever questioned 
his conduct or his courage. 

That night, Mr. S. M. Felton, the president of the Philadelphia, 
Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, and Captain Dupont called upon 
me. From Mr. Felton's story, based on the telegrams he had 
received, we got a clear comprehension of the situation, and of the 
events substantially as they had occurred. We learned that the 
Sixth Regiment had passed through Baltimore on its way to Wash- 
ington, It was believed it had arrived at Washington in safety, 
although no telegrams to that effect had come over the wires. 

I learned also, that the mayor of Baltimore had got a promise 
from Mr. Felton by telegraph, that no more troops should be sent 
through Baltimore, and the further fact, that the Gunpowder Creeks 
bridges, which were very long trestle-works some miles from Baltimore, 
had been burned, so that no troops could be sent by rail. The question 
then arose, how should I get to Washington? 

My orders were distinct that I should go through Baltimore ; but 
under the circumstances I had no difficulty in disregarding them. 
In further conversation they told me that General Patterson had 
from General Scott some sort of military position in Philadelphia, 
but what it was they did not know. I inquired if they thought he 
would give me orders, and they said that they had consulted him, and 
he said he had no military control over me. If he had any military 
position under the United States, it was that of major-general, and I 
could not understand why he would not give me orders, because 
the Articles of War required that when troops of the United States 
met, whether regulars or militia, the senior officer should take 
command. They said that he would advise that I should go through 

Captain Dupont and I consulted the map to see what the march 
would be. There was a branch railroad connecting with the Baltimore 
& Ohio Railroad down through Annapolis, but of course if my march 
was to be opposed, it would be impossible to make use of that, and 


it would be a march of some thirty odd miles from Annapolis to 
Washington. The Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad 
could send me to Perryville, on the northerly side of the Susquehanna 
River, opposite Havre de Grace, and the march from Havre de Grace 
was but a little longer than that from Annapolis. My regiment 
could be ferried across the Susquehanna on the steamer Maryland, the 
railroad ferry-boat between Perryville and Havre de Grace. But there 
was apprehension that the steamer had been seized, or would be before 
we could get there. To that it was answered by Captain Dupont that 
I could take boats from Philadelphia and go to Annapolis, so that I 
had the two routes open to me through Annapolis. 

I inquired into the soundings of the harbor at Annapolis, and into 
all other matters pertaining to such movement. Then I suggested 
still another plan, which I finally adopted, with the full concurrence 
of Mr. Felton and Captain Dupont. It was this : Colonel LefTerts, 
with the New York Seventh Regiment, would be in Philadelphia in 
the morning. If he would co-operate with me, it would bring up 
our forces to about fifteen hundred men, and we could then march 
to Perryville, crossing the river perhaps at Havre de Grace, with 
force enough to meet any enemy that there could be in Maryland, 
although I was told that all Maryland had arisen as one man to 
oppose my march. 

But I have never believed much in camp rumors- 

If LefTerts did not co-operate, I still determined to march in the 
morning with my own regiment, seize the ferry-boat Maryland, and 
go to Annapolis, and hold the town with such aid as I could get 
from the Naval Academy, which could probably furnish me with 
provisions. The premises of the academy were surrounded on three 
sides by a heavy wall, and overlooked the water on the fourth, so 
that they could easily be protected with their guns. I believed I 
could hold Annapolis until reinforced by troops coining from the 
North by water, and I thought that to be, under the circumstances, 
the best plan to get relief to Washington. 

Mr. Felton enthusiastically seconded me in both propositions. He 
said that he would put the Maryland at my disposal, and that he 
would have her provided with water and coal, if the enemy had not 
taken possession of her. She should take me to Annapolis, unless 
LefTerts went with me and we landed at Havre de Grace. Felton 


tried to get these instructions to the commander of the steamer. 
But they failed to reach him, the telegraph wires being cut, for 
no train was to be sent over the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Balti- 
more Railroad to Perry vi lie until my troops went. 

I then sent out my brother, who accompanied me as a civilian, to 
purchase pick-axes and shovels and wood-axes for entrenching tools, 
and to obtain the proper camp kettles and other means for encamping 
the regiment, in case we had to march. All of these were made 
ready and taken with us. 

It was three o'clock in the morning before the whole matter was 
determined upon. I then sat down and wrote hurriedly the follow- 
ing despatch to Governor Andrew : — 

I have detailed Captain Devereux and Captain Briggs, with their 
commands, supplied with one day's rations and twenty rounds of ammu- 
nition, to take possession of the ferry-boat at Havre de Grace for the 
benefit of this expedition. This I have done with the concurrence of the 
present master of transportation. The Eighth Regiment will remain at 
quarters, that they may get a little solid rest after their fatiguing march. 
I have sent to know if the Seventh (New York) Regiment will go 
with me. 

I propose to march myself at the hour of seven o'clock in the morning, 
to take the regular 3.15 o'clock train to Havre de Grace. The citizens 
of Baltimore, at a large meeting this evening, denounced the passage of 
northern troops. They have exacted a promise from the president of the 
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad not to send troops over that road through 
Baltimore, so that any attempt to throw troops into Baltimore entails a 
march of forty miles and an attack upon a city of two hundred thousand 
at the beginning of the march. The only way, therefore, of getting com- 
munication with Washington for troops from the North is over the Balti- 
more & Ohio railroad or marching from the West. Commander Dupont, 
at the navy yard, has given me instructions on the facts in accord- 
ance with these general statements upon which I rely. I have therefore 
thought I could rely upon these statements, and will undertake to proceed 
in marching order from Havre de Grace to Washington. My proposition 
is to join with Colonel Lefferts of the Seventh Regiment of NeAV York. 
I propose to take the fifteen hundred troops to Annapolis, arriving there 
about four o'clock and occupying the capital of Maryland, and thus call 
the State to account for the death of Massachusetts men, my friends and 
neighbors. It Colonel Lefferts thinks it more in accordance with the 


tenor of his instructions to wait rather than go through Baltimore, I still 
propose to march with this regiment. I propose to occupy the town, and 
hold it open as a means of communication. I have then but to advance 
by a forced march of thirty miles to reach the capital, in accordance v 
with the orders I at first received, but which subsequent events, in my 
judgment, vary in their execution, believing from the telegraphs that 
there will be others in great numbers to aid me. Being accompanied by 
officers of more experience, who will be able to direct the affair, I think 
it will be accomplished. We have no light batteries. I have, therefore, 
telegraphed to Governor Andrew to have the Boston Light Battery put 
on shipboard at once to-night to help me in marching on "Washington. 
In pursuance of this plan, I have detailed Captains Devereux and Briggs, 
with their commands, to hold the boat at Havre de Grace. At 11 a. m. 
Colonel Lefferts has refused to march with me. I go alone at three o'clock 
to execute this imperfect plan. If I succeed, success will justify me. 
If I fail, purity of intention will excuse want of judgment or rashness. 

B. F. Butler. 

I desire bere and now to give Mr. S. M. Felton the highest praise 
for his loyalty, his energy, and his advice and hearty co-operation. 
Before I left him I said : " But, Mr. Felton, if we capture the Mary- 
land, it may be necessary to burn her or sink her." He immediately 
gave me an order on her officer to do either. 

Among the considerations which pressed upon my mind to 
determine me to make the attempt to hold Annapolis, and open 
the way to Washington, was the remembrance of a little bit of 
history : — 

Washington had determined upon placing the capital where it 
now is. He had substantially laid out the plan which brought the 
capitol building, in the final location of it, close to the top of a slope 
which commands a view of the very large and substantially level 
ground east of the capitol where, by this plan, the city was to be 
built. But this level tract took in a large piece of the ground 
belonging to Mr. Carroll, and some belonging to the Custis family. 
On this account, Edmund Randolph, Washington's attorney-general, 
attacked him in a pamphlet, which was the mode of political warfare 
in those days. He urged that the location of the capital, and espe- 
cially the plan of the city, was simply the result of nepotism on the 
part of the President, who desired to give great value by the 









location to the lands of his relatives, the Custises and Carrolls. 
Randolph proceeded further and said that there was no reason for its 
location there, military or other; that militarily Washington was 
a very bad point to be fortified or defended; that large ships could 
never get up into the eastern branch, where is now the navy yard, 
on account of the lowness of the tides, and if they could they would 
be easily stopped by small batteries erected by the people along the 
banks overlooking the shallow and crooked channels ; that no com- 
merce could come to Washington, and therefore there could be no 
other motive than a corrupt one to influence the President to place 
the capital where he did. 

The attack was exceedingly coarse and severe. The man who 
acted as Washington's assistant engineer in laying out the city, and 
locating the public buildings, and more than possibly in advising 
the choice of the site, was Major L' Enfant, a very able French 
engineer. To the pamphlet of Randolph, a reply was made which 
was supposed to have been written by L' Enfant. With that reply, 
we have nothing to do here, except in regard to the naval and mili- 
tary situation of the capital. 

Major L' Enfant upon these questions, replied in substance, that 
the person who wrote the pamphlet evidently was not a military man, 
and did not understand the views which led to the location of the 
capital. In the first place, the advantage of little depth of water 
of the Potomac River, its ease or difficulty of access, had nothing to 
do with the location of the capital. The port of Annapolis in 
Chesapeake Bay was the port and harbor of Washington, as Havre 
was of Paris, and it was situated about the same distance from the 
capital as Havre was from Paris. That while the port of Annapolis 
was held, the whole country would have access to Washington in 
a most certain and easy manner, especially for the conveyance of 
troops, as the great bays Delaware and Chesapeake were in precise 
and easy connection with it. Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads 
would protect the fleets of the world, and it was not thought desira- 
ble among military men, in looking at the defence of a capital, to 
have it situated close upon the shores of large open seas where it 
would always be at the mercy of naval attacks and raids of troops 
by water. The very difficulty of getting up the Potomac, and the 
ease with which war vessels could be prevented from ascending the 


river, was one of the protections of Washington. Great numbers of 
troops, concluded Major L' Enfant, could readily be brought down 
the Susquehanna River, and landed anywhere upon its banks or in 
the bays, and so march to protect Washington. 

I had read those pamphlets in earlier days, and now that I saw 
our means of access by railroad in the hands of hostile States, I 
was at once put in mind of the advantage of holding the port of 
Annapolis as the port and harbor of Washington. This would 
give the North, by means of its naval superiority, at all times 
the possibility of marching upon Washington, or marching for 
the purpose of carrying on war with the South. And thus my 
want of military experience was instructed in that regard by 
reading these two political pamphlets which are not taught at 
West Point, and probably had never been read by any West Point 
man then alive. And the knowledge thus derived determined me 
upon the proposition with which I set out as the last and best resort 
for defending Washington. 

How much the Father of his County was disturbed by the 
Randolph pamphlet will appear by a little anecdote which I beg 
leave to transcribe for the benefit of some of my younger readers if 
not most of the older ones : — 

Mr. James Ross, of Pittsburg, was Washington's agent for the sale 
of his lands in Pennsylvania. He came to Philadelphia to settle 
his account, and sent word to the President that he would wait upon 
him at his pleasure, and was invited to breakfast with him the next 
morning. On arriving, he found all the ladies — the Custises, 
Lewises, Mrs. Washington, and others in the parlor, obviously in 
great alarm. Mr. Ross described them as gathered together in the 
middle of the room like a flock of partridges in a field when a hawk 
is in the neighborhood. Very soon the President entered and shook 
hands with Mr. Ross, but looked dark and lowering. They went in 
to breakfast, and after a little while the Secretary of War came in 
and said to Washington : "Have you seen Randolph's pamphlet?" 
"I have," said Washington, "and by the eternal God he is the 
damnedest liar on the face of the earth;" and as he spoke he 
brought his fist down upon the table with all his strength, and 
with a violence which made the cups and plates start from their 
places. Ross said he felt infinitely relieved; for he feared that 


something in his own conduct had occasioned the blackness of the 
President's countenance. 1 

I did my very best to persuade Colonel Lefferts to go with me 
and make our march from Havre de Grace, or go with me to Annap- 
olis. He was not to be persuaded, and in violation of the Articles 
of War, refused to be commanded. He was going to take a steamer 
and go up the Potomac to Washington, and I left him. He never 
suggested that he had any orders or instructions to go to Annapolis. 
His orders were to go through Baltimore, and if he could not go 
through Baltimore, he was to go around by sea to the mouth of the 
Potomac, and then up the Potomac to Washington. 

I thereupon, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, after having waited 
for three or four hours for him to make up his mind, embarked on board 
the train for Wilmington. I was told by Mr. Felton, who was the 
last man I shook hands with as I got on the train, and directed it to 
move, that he believed the steamer Maryland had been captured by 
Baltimore "roughs," as he expressed it. He advised me to take care 
not to be found on board the cars when I got in the neighborhood of 
the steamer. I thanked him and busied myself the first part of the 
way in preparing my regiment for action. I went through the cars, 
saw every man, examined his rifle, found it in good order, stood over 
him while he loaded it, and saw that it was all right. I then told all 
of them that when we got to Perry vi lie, we expected to make an assault 
on the ferry-boat Maryland, and to take it away from the Confederates 
who had captured it; that it was to be done by an attack in columns 
of platoons ; that we were to go on the boat at all hazards, whatever 
resistance was made, and that I would lead the column, as this under- 
taking was very important, and I chose to share the danger with them. 
I said that we probably should lose a considerable number of men, and 
that they had nothing to do but each in his own way to prepare himself 
for the event in the three or four hours that were left us. By calling 
on my secretary, all would be supplied with paper and envelopes 
to write letters to their friends, if they so desired, to be left with the 
conductor, who would return with the train after the assault. 

When I got all through, I returned to the forward car. There 
a curious incident was in progress, which showed the disposition of 

iThe Republican Court; or, American Society in the Days of Washington, by Griswold; 
page 304. 


our men. I found Captain Briggs, who was in command of the 
Pittsfield company, in what appeared to be an altercation with one 
of his men. Captain Briggs had possession of the man's rifle, and 
the man was crying between rage and indignation. The soldier was 
not of age. 

"What is the matter, my man? " I asked. 

"The captain has taken away my rifle," he replied, "and tells me 
I shall stay in the car with the baggage. Now, I don't want to stay 
with the baggage ; I came here to fight, and the captain ought not 
to prevent it." 

I turned to Captain Briggs and said : " What is your explanation of 

"Well," said he, "I want one man to stay with the baggage of 
my company, and I have chosen this young man because he is the 
least experienced man I have got, and I am going to take his rifle 
because I can do something with it. With this," pointing to his 
sword, "I can do nothing." 

I told the man that he must obey the orders of the captain ; that 
he was doing right, and that settled the matter. 

We had about an hour and a half more before the train would stop 
some three quarters of a mile from the boat, and everything being 
done that I could do I sat down, not having had my clothes off since 
I left Boston, and, according to my habit, went to sleep, after 
cautioning the conductor to put the train to the highest speed she 
could make. I seemed hardly to have closed my eyes when the cry 
of "a man overboard" awakened me. The train stopped. I looked 
out of the window of the car, and saw that one of my men, who 
proved to be a sergeant, had stripped himself of everything but his 
trousers and shoes, and was going across the fields. He had jumped 
from the train when it was running at full speed, incurring more 
danger of death thereby than he would have done probably during the 
Avar, — certainly more than during his three months' service. Some 
of the men were off the car chasing him. Not willing to lose time, I 
ordered the bugle to sound recall for the men, and told three or four 
track-men that he had deserted, and that there was a reward of thirty 
dollars offered for him; that I was going to Annapolis, and if they 
would bring him to me there they should have the reward. That was 
the first information the men had as to where they were going. 


After I had been at Annapolis three or four days, the man was 
brought in. He was a man of intelligence. The shock had been too 
much for him. I told him I could not allow him to serve in arms 
with the company, but if he chose to stay there and cook for them, 
and take care of them, and did well, I would not punish him further 
for the desertion. This he did, and afterwards showed himself to be 
a man whose only fault was that he had had his first fright. 

When the train arrived within three quarters of a mile of the 
Maryland at Perryville, it was halted, and I detailed the Salem 
Zouaves, my best drilled company, to act as skirmishers, and threw 
them out on each side of the road into the forest. The regiment was 
then formed in platoons and we marched down without sound of drum 
until we got in sight of the boat, myself marching at their head. 

A little incident which shows the civilian's idea of war occurred 
here. My brother came alongside me as we were marching down to 
the boat, and I observed that he had in his hand a heavy pick-axe 

"What in the world are you going to do with that? " I asked. 

"Why," said he, "you expect to fight, don't you? " 


" Well, I shall go along ; I know how to handle this weapon in 
a hand to hand fight, and can do more execution with it than with 
any other." 

As he was a man six feet two in his stockings, and weighed one 
hundred and eighty pounds without being fleshy, I said to him : " I 
think you are quite right, come on ; " and he stepped on board the 
ferry-boat with me. 

But all this preparation was needless. There was nobody there 
but some of the officers and crew of the boat, the others having 
deserted. I found no preparations made, no coal on board, more 
than enough to cross the river, and the regiment went to work 
immediately to coal her. There were tracks on the upper deck 
for the transportation of cars. We put four cars loaded with 
coal upon those tracks ; . we could not stop to stow it. There 
was no water aboard for drinking, but we found at the landing 
quite a number of empty whiskey barrels, which we filled with 
good wajter and took with us. Three days' rations of chicken, 
turkey, and tongue, had been given us at the Continental Hotel, but 



all that had been eaten on the march, as might have been expected 
of raw volunteers. 

With this outfit we steamed for Annapolis. It was a fine night, 
although quite dark. We got into Annapolis Harbor and steamed 
up toward the wharf of the academy, where lay the good ship Con- 
stitution. As nobody knew that we were coming, we expected that 
the old town would be perfectly quiet and that we should take the 
people by surprise. But as it was, they took us by surprise, for as 
soon as we got fairly in sight the "assembly " was beaten, men were 
forming, the lights were glancing, the academy Avas all lighted up, 
and it was quite evident that we were expected. We came to anchor 
and lay quiet. No guns were fired and no attack made, and the men 


Annapolis in 1861. 

were piled up on the deck so thickly that we could hardly pass among 
them without stepping upon them. 

After thinking the matter over carefully, I concluded to send 
somebody on shore to find out what all this meant. I selected Capt. 
Peter Haggerty of my staff to take a letter from me to whoever was 
in command. Just as our yawl was putting off, my brother said to 
me: " I will go with him." Accordingly he stepped into the boat, 
and handing his revolver to the officer of the deck said : " Here, take 
this. I shall not capture Annapolis with this if I have it, and if they 
take me I don't want them to get a good revolver." In about an 
hour, as I stood at the gangway, I heard the sound of oars, apparently 
muffled. Directly I could see a boat with five people in it, four 


rowing. When they got fairly within gunshot, I called out : " What 
boat is that? " "What steamer is that?" was the reply. The 
answer went back : " None of your business. Come alongside or I 
will fire into you." 

A few strokes of the oar brought alongside the boat a young 
gentleman in the uniform of the United States navy. When he was 
fairly on deck two soldiers seized him and held him fast. 

" Who are you, and what are you here for ? " I asked. 

"I am Lieutenant Matthews, sent by Commodore Blake, com- 
mandant of the Naval Academy, to learn what steamer this is." 

"Very well, I can tell you that easily. But whether I shall allow 
you to communicate it to Captain Blake is another question. This 
is the steamer Maryland, which plies as a ferry-boat between Havre 
de Grace and Perryville. I am General Butler, of Massachusetts, 
and my troops here are Massachusetts men, and we propose landing 
here." I was thus careful, because I had heard that a great many 
of the naval officers had quit the service. 

"I am rejoiced to hear it," said the young lieutenant, "and so will 
be Captain Blake. He is afraid that this boat holds a lot of Balti- 
more roughs who have come to capture the station." 

"Very well," I said, "you must remain here. I have sent a boat 
ashore to Captain Blake, — you must have passed it somewhere, — 
with the information that he wants." 

Just as day was breaking, Captain Haggerty came back with my 
brother and Commodore Blake. I invited the commodore to the 
quarter-deck where we could be alone, and told him who I was, and why 
I was there, and asked him what he desired. The old man burst into 
tears, and shed them like rain for a moment, and then broke out : — 

"Thank God! thank God! Won't you save the Constitution? " 

I did not know that he referred to the ship Constitution, and I 
answered : — 

"Yes, that is just what I am here for." 

"Are those your orders? Then the old ship is safe." 

"I have no orders," said I; "I am carrying on war now on my 
own hook; I cut loose from my orders when I left Philadelphia. 
What do you want me to do to save the Constitution ? " 

"I want some sailor men," he answered, "for I have no sailors; 
I want to get her out, and get her afloat." 


" Oh, well," said I, " I have plenty of sailor men from the town of 
Marblehead, where their fathers built the Constitution." 

"Well," said he, "can you stop and help me?" 

"I must stop," I replied. "I can go no further at present, and I 
propose to stop here and hold this town." 

"Oh, well," said he, "you can do that as long as we can keep off 
any force by sea. This peninsula is connected with the mainland 
by a little neck not half a mile wide, and a small body of troops there 
posted, can hold off a large force. Now, General," he added, "won't 
you come over with me and take breakfast, and then we can talk of 
this matter wider." 

I accepted his invitation, and after consultation with him, I assured 
myself that with my force I could hold the place for some time to 
come, at least long enough for reinforcements to get to me from the 
North, and thus against all the efforts possible to shut off troops 
from the capital. I then came to the conclusion to hold the town, 
and did so, and from that time forth Annapolis was in the hands of 
the Union side. 

Early on the morning of Sunday the 21st, I breakfasted at head- 
quarters with Commodore and Mrs. Blake, and their son, who was 
then an officer in the United States navy. After a breakfast eaten 
with a rapidity which astonished the accomplished wife of the com- 
modore, I got the first glimpse of what a civil war meant. I was 
beginning to say something to Commodore Blake about getting the 
Constitution out of her dock. As I was speaking, I caught the eye 
of Mrs. Blake, and saw that I was saying something that I ought 
not to say. I changed the topic of conversation at once into a 
descant upon the peculiar toothsomeness of deviled hard-shelled 
crabs, which formed a considerable portion of my breakfast. Mean- 
while Lieutenant Blake, the son, rose and went out, as did his 
father, leaving the lady and myself at the table. Then she 
remarked: "General, I observed that you took the hint I tried to 
give you to keep the conversation upon general topics, and I think 
it my duty now, however painful it is, to give you the reason. My 
son, I regret to say, sides with secession; and while I feel certain 
that nothing you could say would be communicated to the enemies of 
the country by him, yet we find lately that one cannot be too 


Here, where I found at the threshold a son arrayed against his 
father, both of whom must soon become deadly enemies, I was most 
forcibly impressed with a realization of what that contest in which I 
was taking part was to be. 

Before I went ashore, Captain Haggerty, who, as I have said, had 
returned on board the steamer, gave me two notes which had been 
received, one from the governor of the State, and one from Lieu- 
tenant Miller, who was a quartermaster of the army at the post. The 
governor's note reads as follows : — 

I would most earnestly advise that you do not land your men at Annapolis. 
The excitement here is very great, and I think it prudent that you should 
take your men elsewhere. I have telegraphed to the Secretary of War 
against your landing your men here. 

This was addressed to the u Commander of the Volunteer Troops 
on Board the Steamer." The quartermaster, Capt. Morris J. Miller, 
wrote thus : — 

Having been intrusted by General Scott with the arrangements for 
transporting your regiments hence to Washington, and it being imprac- 
ticable to procure cars, I recommend that the troops remain on board the 
steamer until further orders can be received from General Scott. 

This letter from Miller I knew was an entire romance on his part, 
and I suspected him of disloyalty. When I got into Washington I 
reported him to General Scott who relieved him, and another quar- 
termaster was sent to me, a very efficient and loyal man, who did 
me great service. 

To the governor I answered as follows : — 

I had the honor to receive your note by the hands of Lieutenant 
Matthews, of the United States Naval School at Annapolis. I am sorry 
that your excellency should advise against my landing here. I am not 
provisioned for a long voyage. Finding the ordinary means of communi- 
cation cut off by the burning of railroad bridges by a mob, I have been 
obliged to make this detour, and hope that your excellency will see, from 
the very necessity of the case, that there is no cause of excitement in the 
mind of any good citizen because of our being driven here by an extraor- 
dinary .casualty. I should at once obey, however, an order from the 
Secretary of War. 


Immediately after breakfast I detailed a company, the Salem 
Zouaves, Captain Devereux, the best drilled company I had, as 
guard on board the Constitution. I also detailed a company of 
Marbleheaders, who were fishermen, to help work the ship under the 
command of Lieutenant (afterwards Admiral) Rogers. He worked 
with a will, and I shall never forget my delight at his efficiency. 
He transferred all the upper deck guns and their carriages on board 
the Maryland, thus lightening the ship. We got up her anchors, 
which were several feet deep in the mud, and after very strenuous 
efforts on the part of all of us, the Constitution, attached to the 
Maryland, was worked around and down the bay into deep water. 
The Maryland on returning got hard and fast aground, and that- 
closed the day of Sunday. 

On Monday morning I went ashore at the academy, and received 
Governor Hicks at headquarters. He was accompanied by the mayor 
of Annapolis, and both of them exhorted me not to think of landing. 

They said all Maryland was ready to rush to arms ; that the enthu- 
siasm of the people in Annapolis could not long be restrained, and 
that the railroad towards Washington had been torn tip and was fully 
guarded. I replied that I certainly should land and go on through 
to Washington, but that I could not march then as I had no provi- 
sions. I said that I desired to purchase the provisions I needed, as 
Maryland was to be treated as a State which had not seceded. They 
then said that I could not buy an ounce of provisions in Annapolis. 
The mayor assured me that no patriot would sell to Yankee troops 
provisions with which to march to Washington. I replied that I had 
hoped better things than that from Annapolis, the city in which the 
only sign of life that I could see was the United States Naval School. 
The refusal to sell provisions and the objections to my landing were 
urged again and again. 

At last being a little aroused, I said : " I suppose there are suffi- 
cient provisions in this capital of Maryland to feed a thousand men, 
and if the people will not sell those provisions, a thousand hungry, 
armed men have other means of getting what they want to eat 
besides buying it." They were obdurate, however, and we parted 
for the time. 

Meanwhile Commodore Blake furnished me with such provisions 
as he could spare from the academy. But cooking their own rations 


was not one of the exercises in which my men had been drilled ; 
and when so many pounds of salt beef and hard bread were told out 
to them, and a few cords of wood distributed among them to cook 
the rations with, their condition of entire uncertainty as to what 
they could or would do was one of the most laughable incidents of 
the war. Further it shows the folly of the system of holding State 
encampments of militia regiments to prepare the men for duties in 
war, while permitting them to hire a caterer to furnish and cook 
their rations elsewhere, — a very ludicrous and useless performance. 
If a regiment of volunteer militia is put into camp, the men should 
have their camp utensils for cooking, and be taught how to cook 
and prepare their food. The militia regiments of to-day, if brought 
into the field now, would be as helpless about their food in camp as 
was the Eighth Regiment on the parade ground of the Naval 
Academy, in 1861. 

A few days of the presence of our troops changed the minds of 
the governor and mayor, for within thirty days the mayor of Annap- 
olis was an applicant for the place of post sutler. He did not get 
it from me, however. The governor changed the place of meeting 
of the legislature, which had been called to meet at that time in 
Annapolis, to Frederick, upon the ground that it was improper for 
it to meet in a city which was held by United States troops. Yet 
within fifteen days thereafterwards, he brought to me the great seal 
of the State of Maryland, and placed it in my safe keeping so 
that it could not be attached to an ordinance of secession, if the 
Maryland legislature should pass one. Thus I had another offer 
thrust upon me of the honors of which I could not boast, to wit, the 
keeper of the great seal. 

On that same Monday morning, there came up the bay the steamer 
Boston, having on board the New York Seventh Regiment, which 
had been thirty-six hours coming from Philadelphia. Colonel 
Lefferts, their commander, had run down to the mouth of the Poto- 
mac River in pursuance of his declaration that he proposed to go to 
Washington by water. But it seemed that when he got to the light- 
ship he asked the secessionists, who were keepers of the light-ship, 
whether he had best go to the relief of the capital, and was told by 
them that there were batteries on the banks of the Potomac for the 
purpose of preventing the advance of troops. Having received such 


authentic (?) information, he called a council of war, and it was 
voted not to be quite safe to go up the Potomac. It was thought 
best to come back to Annapolis and seek the aid and protection of 
the Massachusetts troops. 

I supposed that the Articles of War were in force in New York 
and Annapolis, and known to the New York troops, as they were to 
the Massachusetts troops. I refer more particularly to the following 
paragraphs : — 

The militia, when called into actual service of the United States for 
the suppression of rebellion against and resistance to the laws of the 
United States, shall be subject to the same rules and articles of war as 
the regular troops of the United States. (Rev. Stats. U. S., Sec. 1644 ; 
Feb. 28, 1795.) 

If, upon marches, guards, or in quarters, different corps of the army 
happen to join or do duty together, the officer highest in rank of the line 
of the army, marine corps or militia, by commission, there on duty or m 
quarters, shall command the whole, and give orders for what is needful to 
the service, unless otherwise specially directed by the President, according 
to the nature of the case. 

Finding this regiment joining me, I supposed it came under my 
command. At any rate, as will be seen hereafter, General Scott put 
it under my command very quickly when he heard of the trouble. 
At this time, however, I proceeded to take command, and thereupon 
issued the following order : — 

At five o'clock a.m. the troops will be called by companies to be drilled 
in the manual of arms, especially in loading at will and firing by file, and 
in the use of the bayonet, and these specialties will be observed in all 
subsequent drills in the manual. Such drills will continue until seven 
o'clock. Then all the arms may be stacked upon the upper deck, great care 
being taken to instruct the men as to the mode of stacking their arms, so 
that a firm stack, not easily overturned, shall be made. Being obliged to 
drill at times with the weapons loaded, great damage may be done by the 
overturning of the stack and the discharge of a piece. This is important. 
Indeed, an accident has already occurred in the regiment from this cause, 
and although slight in its consequences, yet it warns us to increased dili- 
gence in this regard. 

The purpose, which could only be hinted at in the orders of yesterday, 
has been accomplished. The frigate Constitution has lain for a long time 


at this port substantially at the mercy of the armed mob which sometimes 
paralyzes the otherwise loyal State of Maryland. Deeds of daring, 
successful contests, and glorious victories had rendered Old Ironsides so 
conspicuous in the naval history of the country, that she was fitly chosen 
as the school in which to train the future officers of the navy to like 
heroic acts. It was given to Massachusetts and Essex County first to 
man her; it was reserved to Massachusetts to have the honor to retain her 
for the service of the Union and the laws. This is a sufficient triumph of 
right, a sufficient triumph for us. By this, the blood of our friends 
shed by the Baltimore mob is in so far avenged. The Eighth Regiment 
may hereafter cheer lustily upon all proper occasions, but never without 
orders. The old Constitution by their efforts, aided untiringly by the 
United States officers having her in charge, is now safety " possessed, 
occupied, and enjoyed " by the Government of the United States, and is 
safe from all her enemies. 

We have been joined by the Seventh Regiment of New York, and 
together we propose peaceably, quietly, and civilly, unless opposed by 
some mob or other disorderly persons, to march to Washington in obedi- 
ence to the requisition of the President of the United States ; and if 
opposed, we shall march steadily forward. 

My next order I hardly know how to express. I cannot assume that 
any of the citizen soldiery of Massachusetts or New York could, under 
any circumstances whatever, commit any outrages upon private property 
in a loyal and friendly State. But fearing that some improper person 
may have by stealth introduced himself among us, I deem it proper to 
state that any unauthorized interference with private property will be 
most signally punished, and full reparation therefor made to the injured 
party, to the full extent of my power and ability. In so doing, I but 
carry out the orders of the War Department. I should have done so 
without those orders. 

Colonel Monroe will cause these orders to be read at the head of each 
company before we march. Colonel Lefferts' command not having been 
originally included in this order, he will be furnished with a copy for his 

Colonel Lefferts reported to me at my headquarters on the grounds 
of the academy. As the steamer Maryland was hard and fast, and 
could not be floated until she was relieved of her troops, I asked 
him to ajlow the Boston to land the Seventh Regiment at the 
grounds of the Naval Academy, and then to land at the same place 
the Massachusetts Eighth. This was done, and the men of the regi- 


ments fraternized, and the officers apparently, until after a consulta- 
tion with Colonel Lefferts as to the best way of opening the road 
and marching to Washington. In this consultation I endeavored 
to impress upon him the necessity of immediate action. I was 
informed by him, however, that he had held a consultation with his 
officers, and had concluded to remain there until more reinforce- 
ments should arrive. I suggested that waiting there would only 
give the rebels outside further time to tear up the railroad, which I 
was assured was not then in a very bad condition, and could be 
repaired very quickly. I urged him, as I had in the meantime got 
news that the Fifth Massachusetts was coming very soon, to march out 
at once with his regiment, and lay out on the road and repair it. 
The difficulty as to provisions having been relieved so far as the 
Eighth was concerned, and, no such difficulty existing in his own 
regiment, I impressed upon him as strongly as I could the necessity 
for marching at once. Meantime I had been reliably informed that 
this was the desire of some of the officers of the Seventh. 

The trouble with Lefferts appeared to be that he had picked up 
somewhere a man who had once been at West Point, to accompany 
and cosset him in his command. Lefferts never called upon me 
without him, and he at times was somewhat officious, and not always 
too courteous. But I pardoned that on account of the color of his 
nose, and because I was not seeking difficulties. 

I then got the acquiescence of Lefferts that I should address his 
officers on parade ground, at dress parade, on the necessity of an 
immediate march for the relief of Washington. I did so address 
them, and, I thought, got their assent ; for, as I made my points 
they turned their eyes very steadfastly on Lefferts and his dry 
nurse. Some time after parade had been dismissed, Lefferts informed 
me that upon further consultation, his officers declined to march. 

"Colonel Lefferts," said I, "war is not carried on in this way. A 
commander doesn't consult his regiment as to the propriety of obey- 
ing his orders; he must judge of what those orders should be. Now, 
by the Articles of War, I am in command, as brigadier-general of 
the United States militia, called into service, and actually in service. 
I take the responsibility of giving you an order to march, and shall 
expect it to be obeyed." 

Here Red Nose lighted up and said : — 


"General Butler, you don't appear to be aware that a general of 
United States militia has no right to command New York State 

"No, sir," said I, "I am not aware of that, and it is not the law. 
Have you got a copy of the Articles of War in your pocket? " 

"No, sir." 

" Have you examined them ? " 

"No, sir; but I was educated at West Point." 

That was the first time in carrying on war, that West Point had 
ever interfered to render my movements abortive, but not the last 
time by a great deal, as we shall see hereafter. It stirred me then, 
as it always has stirred me since. 

I turned to Lefferts and said: "What rank does this man hold in 
your command? " 

"None at all." 

" Well, then, I have nothing to do with him." And I asked 
Lefferts once again: "Will you march?" I spoke with considerable 
emphasis, and added: "I hope you won't refuse to obey my order." 

Then Red Nose said: "Well, what will you do if the colonel 
refuses to march? " 

" If he refuses to march, I certainly have this remedy : I will 
denounce him and his regiment as fit only to march down Broadway 
in gala dress to be grinned at by milliners ' apprentices." 

I then called an orderly and sent for Lieutenant-Colonel Hincks, 
of the Eighth Regiment, to report to me at once. It so happened 
that he was at the very door, and came in. I said: "Colonel 
Hincks, take two companies of the Eighth Regiment and march out 
two miles on the Elkton railroad towards Washington, and hold 
it against all comers until I reinforce you, if necessary, and report 
to me in the morning. Colonel Lefferts with his whole regiment is 
afraid to go, Colonel, but you will obey orders." Colonel Hincks 
bowed, and did obey orders instantly. 

Red Nose then said: "Such language as that, General, requires 
reparation among officers and gentlemen." 

" Oh, well, " said I, " as far as Colonel Lefferts is concerned, I 
shall be entirely satisfied with him if he shows a disposition to fight 
anybody anywhere ; let him begin on me. But as for you, if you 
interrupt fchis conversation again, and if you do not leave the room 


instantly, I will direct my orderly to take you out. Good afternoon, 
Colonel Lefferts." And that was the last communication that I had 
in person with Colonel Lefferts of the Seventh New York. 

The question has been asked me, "Would you have fought him 
if he had called upon you ? " and I have answered that I thought I 
should have been justified in doing so, and probably should have 
done so. The rebels did not believe that we would fight at all, and 
it would have been a good example to show them that we would fight 
each other if nobody else. 

All these circumstances were known to two gentlemen who were 
connected with the New York Seventh. One was Major Winthrop, 
one of the noblest of God's noblemen, and the other was Col. 
Schuyler Hamilton, who had been in the service of the United States 
in Mexico, where he distinguished himself for gallantry and conduct, 
and was made military secretary to General Scott while in Mexico. 
Both Winthrop and Hamilton were then acting as privates in the 
New York Seventh, and Winthrop had enlisted for the time only 
which the Seventh had agreed to go to war. Hamilton was accepted 
by me as a volunteer aid on my staff, and I told Winthrop to serve 
out his time with the regiment, because those were the terms of his 
enlistment, and then to come to me wherever I was and I would 
give him a place on my staff. This I did thirty-two days later at 
Fortress Monroe, Virginia. 

I at once mounted my horse, and marched with Hincks and his two 
companies outside of the grounds of the academy, to seize the railroad 
depot. All of the buildings but one were taken possession of with- 
out any opposition on the part of the keeper. I asked him what this 
particular one contained. He said : — 


I told him to give me the key. He replied that he did not 
have it. 

"Where is it?" 

"I don't know." 

I ordered the doors to be forced, and they were driven in at once, 
and there was found therein a small, rusty, dismantled locomotive, 
portions of which had been removed in order to disable her. I turned 
to the men, who stood in line in front of the depot, and said : " Do 
any of you know anything about such a machine as this ? " 


Charles Homans, a private of Company E, stepped forward and 
took a good look at the engine and replied : " That engine was made 
in our shop ; I guess I can fit her up and run her." 

" Go to work, and pick out some men to help you." 

Homans at once began his work, and in a short time the missing 
parts were found, adjusted, and the engine was in usual repair. 

I immediately made an order for the muster of a detail of all the 
men of the regiment who had ever had anything to do with laying 
railroad track, and some twenty men reported for duty. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Hincks, with whom we shall hereafter have to do as Major- 
General Hincks, made his reconnoissance two miles out on the road 
that night. Lefferts, up to three o'clock the next morning, had no 
intention of marching, because at that hour he sent out a messenger 
in an open boat for New York, bearing despatches asking for 
reinforcements and supplies. His message was that he had positive 
knowledge of four rebel regiments at the Junction, 1 where the grand 
attack was to be made upon the United States troops. 

At sunrise, however, it appeared that the guard at the depot had 
not been massacred, and that the engine had been run out upon the 
road, where Colonel Hincks and his men were all found safe and 
awaiting orders to march. Then the officers of the Seventh Regiment 
concluded that the regiment ought to march, and it did march. So 
did the Eighth Massachusetts. 

From that time forward the men of the two regiments worked 
together admirably. Nor was there the least fault to find, nor 
had there ever been, with the New York Seventh Regiment as a 
body of men. I met many of them then, and I have met many 
of them since the war, and I speak of them with that highest 
and fullest respect which I have always felt for them. But the 
whole difficulty was with their commander, who never went outside 
of the academy grounds, but kept within its closed walls, and 
had no communication with anybody, save with the secessionists. 
Nor, for the matter of that, had I, save with the loyal scholars at 
the academy, and their brave and noble officers, the noblest one 
of all being their highest officer, which, as we have seen, is not 
always the case. 

1 The junotion of the Elkton Railroad with the Washington branch of the Baltimore & Ohio 
Railroad is about a dozen miles from Annapolis and about nineteen from Washington. 


The social standing of the New York Seventh brought the cards of 
the leading secessionists to Lefferts, and the rebels filled his mind 
with the most terrible reports and stories of armed men, great bodies 
of troops, and a rising through all Maryland, which the United 
States would alone hardly have the power to overcome. I was not 
afflicted with such reports, because those who spread them did not 
call upon me except when I sent for them, and that was generally 
for the purposes of discipline ; so that I did not get frightened, for 
I had not up to that time seen, nor did I ever afterwards see, any 
force of Maryland secessionists that could not have been overcome 
with a large yellow dog. 

The march of the Eighth Massachusetts and Seventh New York 
is told in that beautiful story by Major Winthrop, which reads like 
a poem, I do not care to go into the detail of the incidents of the 
march, for the story of that first advance for the relief of Washington 
can never be better told. That the New York Seventh did no more 
was not the fault of the men, but their misfortune. Their habits 
of life no more fitted them for the hardships of war than for repairing 
a disabled locomotive or weighing the anchor of the good ship Con- 
stitution. While Winthrop was a member of the Seventh, and wished 
in his loyalty to give it all the credit to which it was fairly entitled, 
anyone who reads the report of that march will see that the hard 
working fishermen, mechanics, and laboring men of the Eighth 
Massachusetts must have done the larger portion of the work, and 
suffered the greater share of the hardships of the march. The 
regiment under the command of Lefferts, reached Washington and 
encamped there during its term of service. But its members never 
heard a hostile shot fired, and never fired one ; and at the end of 
their short picnic excursion they marched back to New York, having 
suffered one great privation. When they marched from Annapolis 
it was necessarily in light marching order, so they left behind them 
a thousand velvet carpet-covered camp stools. Although frequent 
requisitions came for them to be sent forward while I was in com- 
mand at Annapolis, forcing through troops from the North for the 
defence of the capital, I never had any vacant space in the cars into 
which those camp stools could be stowed in exclusion of recruits to 
be forwarded, and the loss of these camp-stools was a hardship which 
taught them all they learned of the horrors of war. 


Let me be just: There were more officers taken from the enlisted 
men of that regiment afterwards during the war, who did their duty 
bravely and well so far as I know, than from any other regiment 
ever in the service of the United States. Their own history boasts 
that because of the social and influential position of the men compos- 
ing the battalion there were taken from its numbers during the 
war six hundred and six officers. And as their force was only about 
eight hundred men, it appears that no more than two hundred of 
them served as privates only. 1 

As an illustration of the accuracy with which history is written, 
and especially in that book entitled " Abraham Lincoln, A History," 
I beg leave to quote from that work the following description of the 
entrance of the Seventh Regiment into the beleaguered capital, as 
showing its effect upon the despairing government : — 

Promptly debarking and forming, the Seventh marched up Pennsylvania 
Avenue to the White House. As they passed up the magnificent street, 
with their well-formed ranks, their exact military step, their soldierly 
bearing, their gaily floating flags, and the inspiring music of their splendid 
regimental band, they seemed to sweep all thought of danger and all taint 
of treason out of that great national thoroughfare and out of every human 
heart in the federal city. The presence of this single regiment seemed to 
turn the scales of fate. Cheer upon cheer greeted them, windows were 

1 After I had written this, and before I had revised the manuscript, the following letter was 
brought to my notice, which I use as an authority for my statements about the bravery of the 
officers, which I did not know of my own knowledge : — 

New York, March 15, 1891. 
Major-General Benj F. Butler, 

Boston, Mass. : 

Sir. — I have read Swinton's History of the New York Seventh Regiment, and from it I learn 
that the Seventh was a web drilled and equipped regiment in April, 1861. That during the Civil 
War they did not fire a shot at the enemy, were not in any battle, not once under fire, did not kill 
or wound any ot the enemy, ana never trod on rebel territory. 

In May, 1861, a portion of the regiment remained in camp in Washington while the others 
crossed the Long Bridge over the Potomac, and bivouacked one mile from the bridge. The next 
morning being Sunday, they formed in picturesque groups, and their chaplain preached to them. 
That afternoon they returned to their camp in Washington. 

They call this " Our Campaign in Virginia." That part of Virginia was not rebel territory. 
For a few weeks in the summer of 1862 and 1863 they did garrison duty in Baltimore. They 
returned to New York in July, 1863, and did not leave here again during the war. Shortly after 
the war they caused to be erected in Central Park in this city, an expensive monument On the 

Sedestal is inscribed "In honor of fifty-eight members of the Seventh Regiment who died in 
efenceof the Union." In their so-called roll of honor appear the names "of fifty-eight of our 
members killed in battle." The name of Ro*bert G. Shaw is there. He was a private in the 
Seventh. He went to the front with a Massachusetts regiment, and afterwards was colonel of 
the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts (colored) volunteers. He was killed while leading his regiment 
in the attack on Fort Wagner, S. C. The day he was killed the Seventh was in New York. The 
Seventh, having won no laurels, took one belonging to a regiment of negroes, and wear it as 
their own. 

Hoping that you will find some portion of this letter interesting, I remain, 

Respectfully yours, 

280 Broadway, New York. 


thrown up, houses opened, the population came forth upon the streets as 
for a holiday. It was an epoch in American history. For the first time, 
the combined spirit of power and liberty entered the nation's capital. 

Yet the Sixth Massachusetts, passing through fire and blood, and 
bearing their wounded comrades with them, had come there several 
days before, guarding the lives of four hundred unarmed Pennsylva- 
nians from the plug-ugly murderous mobs of Baltimore. The Eighth 
Massachusetts would have followed the Sixth on the next day if, as 
we have seen, they had not been obliged to wait and guard the New 
York Seventh to the capital. 

I had scarcely dispatched the troops from Annapolis upon their 
way to Washington, when I was visited by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Keyes, who introduced himself to me as a member of General Scott's 
staff. He informed me that he had been sent to the governor of New 
York about recruiting troops; that he had done that business and was 
returning to Washington, and in the meantime he found the way 
through Baltimore blocked up and had come to Annapolis. Here, 
finding no " regular " officer in command, he deemed it his duty to 
take command. I said: "Have you any instructions from General 
Scott to so do ? " He said he had not, but that it was proper that 
he should, and that he would do so. He stated that his orders from 
General Scott, when he sent him out, were such that it was his duty 
to do anything that he thought was for the service of the United 

I had just finished one conflict upon my right to command at 
Annapolis, and I was waiting for a day or two when I could get 
communication with General Scott. My troops were then close upon 
the Junction, and would be, I hoped, in Washington the next day, 
and I was reluctant to have any trouble, as there was no hurry, and 
I was doing nothing but forwarding troops as fast as I could. I 
thereupon said : — 

"Well, I suppose that you will need my services here to press 
forward these troops as fast as I can." 

" Oh, yes ; I only take command to see that everything is done 
right, owing to your inexperience." 

"Very well," I said, "give me your orders in writing so that I 
can be sure exactly what I have got to do." 


So he commenced giving me General Order No. 1, General 
Order No. 2, and I think he got np to about No. 4. I consulted 
with Colonel Hamilton about them, and he said : — 

"Don't obey them; he has no right to give any such orders." 

"Oh, well," I said, "I will take care of him." 

Meantime I gathered them up, and as soon as I heard that the way 
was open between Annapolis and Washington, I put Hamilton on 
board the very first train to go to General Scott and explain Mr. 
Keyes' performances, and show him the orders. It took some time 
for Hamilton to get through, for he had other business, and meantime 
General Scott laid his hand upon him for his own private secretary 
after he had reported to me, so that I lost his services during the 
war, which would have been invaluable to me. But our friendship 
ever remains as bright as a chain of new molten gold. 

While I was waiting for Hamilton to return, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Keyes, who didn't seem to have niuch to do except to issue a series of 
general orders which tended to show that he was at the helm, used 
to come into my office and give me instructions in the art of war, 
telling me how this thing ought to be done, and how that thing 
ought to be done, what I ought to do so, and what I ought not to do 
that way. He spent considerable time with me in such performances, 
and was not always careful to give me those instructions when I 
was alone, so that I appeared before visitors at headquarters to be 
receiving daily and minute tuition in my duties from this person, 
who took care to do much of that in the presence of any distinguished 
man who called upon me. As everybody who came from the North 
and East to Washington, had to pass through Annapolis, and had to 
come to my headquarters to get passes to go on the railroad, I seemed 
always in Keyes' keeping. 

Late at night Colonel Hamilton reported from General Scott what 
he had been sent to ascertain. When Scott heard of Keyes' proceed- 
ings, he said : — 

" What ! Has Keyes been appointed Field Marshal ? I had not 
heard of it. Why, nobody but a Field Marshal could have issued 
such orders as these, while I am Lieutenant-General, commanding 
the United States armies. Tell General Butler to order Field 
Marshal Keyes to report to me forthwith, and I will take care of 


Armed with that power I went into the office the next morning. 
My first visitor was Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts, who had just 
arrived from the North, and who naturally had a little respect for 
my opinions, because we had acted together for a number of years 
politically. In a few moments Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes came in 
and was introduced to Senator Wilson, and Keyes took part in our 
conversation, which he soon turned to giving some instructions 
to me as to what was necessary to make a good officer in war. 
What those qualifications were I led him on to detail in full, 
listening with great gravity and apparent interest. At last I said 
to him : — 

" Do you think of any other qualification beside those you have 
described to me and the senator here, which is necessary to make a 
good officer of the army ? " 

"No," said he, "I don't think of anything that I need to 

"Well," I said, "Colonel, I think there is one thing more that is 
necessary, which you have not named, and which you evidently 
don't know anything about." 

" Ah, General, what is that ? " 

"Brains! Colonel Keyes, brains! You haven't any, and you have 
bothered me here long enough. I have reported you to General 
Scott, and here is your order to report to him forthwith, and here 
is a pass for you to go, and if you don't go by the next train, I will 
send you under guard. Good-morning, sir." 

And as long as General Scott had anything to do with the army, 
Colonel Keyes was not Field Marshal. 

Among the orders that came to me from Scott, was one creating 
the military department of Annapolis. It read as follows: — 

War Department, 
Adjutant-General's Office, April 27, 1861. 

A new military department to be called the Department of Annapolis, 
headquarters at that city, will include the country for twenty miles on 
each side of the railroad from Annapolis to the city of Washington, as 
far as Bladensburg, Maryland. 

Brigadier-General B. F. Butler, Massachusetts Volunteers, is assigned to 
the command. 

L. Thomas, Adjutant- General. 


Sol was asfain out of the shadow of West Point. There are one 
or two episodes which enlivened the routine of superintending the 
transportation of troops to Washington, which may not be uninterest- 
ing if made a part of this narrative- Governor Hicks had protested 
to me against the landing of my troops, and he had also protested to 
the President, to whom he made the amazing proposition that the 
national controversy between the North and South be submitted to 
the arbitration of Lord Lyons, the British Minister. Finding all his 
protests unavailing, and his proposal for arbitration rejected, and 
preparation being made to forward troops from Annapolis to Wash- 
ington, he hit upon another equally remarkable obstacle to the 
defence of the national capital. He issued a proclamation calling 
upon the Maryland legislature to meet at Annapolis, on Friday, the 
26th of April, for the purpose of taking action in that behalf. He 
then made a protest against my taking possession of the railroad, 
because it would prevent the members of the legislature from getting 
to Annapolis. His letter is as follows: — 

Executive Chamber, 
Annapolis, Friday, April 23, 1861. 

Dear Sir : — Having by virtue of the power vested in me by the Con- 
stitution of Maryland, summoned the legislature of the State to assemble 
on Friday, the 26th inst., and Annapolis being the place in which, accord- 
ing to law, it must assemble, and having been creditably informed that 
you have taken military possession of the Annapolis & Elk Ridge Rail- 
road, I deem it my duty to protest against this step ; because, without at 
present assigning any other reason, I am informed that such occupation 
of said road will prevent the members of the legislature from reaching 

this city. 

Very respectfully yours, 

Thomas H. Hicks. 

To this letter I replied as follows : — 

Headquarters U. S. Militia, 

Annapolis, Md., April 23, 1861. 

To His Excellency, Thomas H. Hicks, Governor of Maryland : 

You are creditably informed that I have taken possession of the 
Annapolis & Elk Ridge Railroad. It might have escaped your notice, 
but at the official meeting which was had between your excellency and 
the mayor o£ Annapolis, and the committee of the government, and myself, 


as to the landing of my troops, it was expressly stated as a reason why I 
should not land, that my troops could not pass the railroad because the 
company had taken up the rails, and they were private property. It is 
difficult to see how it can be that if my troops could not pass over the 
railroad one way, members of the legislature could pass the other way. I 
have taken possession for the purpose of preventing the execution of the 
threats of the mob, as officially represented to me by the master of trans- 
portation of the railroad in this city, " that if my troops passed over the 
railroad, the railroad should be destroyed." 

If the government of the State had taken possession of the road in 
any emergency, I should have long hesitated before entering upon it ; but 
as I had the honor to inform your excellency in regard to another insur- 
rection against the laws of Maryland, I am here armed to maintain those 
laws, if your excellency desires, and the peace of the United States, 
against all disorderly persons whomsoever. I am endeavoring to save 
and not to destroy ; to obtain means of transportation, So that I can 
vacate the capital prior to the sitting of the legislature, and not be under 
the painful necessity of encumbering your beautiful city while the legis- 
lature is in session. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, 

Your excellency's obedient servant, 

B. F. Butler, 
Brigadier- General. 

The result of this correspondence was that the governor ordered 
the legislature to convene at Frederick City instead of Annapolis. 

Before my landing, the governor came to me with the announce- 
ment that he was informed that there was an intended rising of the 
negroes against the people of Annapolis, and that citizens were fleeing 
from their homes. His excellency was in a state of great excitement 
and fear, and I immediately wrote him the following letter : — 

I did myself the honor in my communication of yesterday, wherein I 
asked permission to land on the soil of Maryland, to inform you that the 
portion of the militia under my command were armed only against 
disturbers of the peace of the State of Maryland and of the United 
States. I have understood within the last hour that some apprehension 
is entertained of an insurrection of the negro population of this neighbor- 
hood. I am anxious to convince all classes of persons that the forces 
under my command are not here in any way to interfere or countenance 


an interference with the laws of the State. I, therefore, am ready to 
co-operate with your excellency in suppressing most promptly and 
efficiently any insurrection against the laws of the State of Maryland. 
I beg, therefore, that you announce publicly, that any portion of the 
forces under my command is at your excellency's disposal, to act imme- 
diately for the preservation of the peace of this community. 

The effect of that offer was extremely beneficial. It brought back 
all the inhabitants who had fled. It allayed the fears that we were 
undertaking a servile war. It brought me at once into personal, 
friendly relations with Governor Hicks, who was not at heart a 
secessionist, but only a very timid and cautious man. 

I informed him in a private, friendly conversation, that he must 
not recommend, in his message to the legislature, any discussion of 
the question of secession, and that if he did I should certainly pro- 
ceed against him. He assured me that nothing was further from his 
wish or thought than secession, and that he would never permit the 
great seal of Maryland to be affixed to any such ordinance or give 
force and validity to it, if it were passed ; and as a guarantee of his 
good faith in that regard, he placed the seal for safe keeping in my 
hands, and I so he hi it during the session of that legislature. 

I also told him that if the legislature undertook with or without 
his recommendation to discuss an ordinance of secession, I should 
hold that to be an act of hostility to the United States, and should 
disperse that legislature, or, more properly speaking, would shut 
them up together where they might discuss it all the time, but 
without any correspondence or reporting to the outer world. 

I had no one fitted to advise with upon this question until the late 
lamented General Devens came as its major with the Worcester 
(Mass.) battalion. I had sent to Washington all my Massachusetts 
troops, and very glad was I to see the major and his stalwart loyal 
Worcester men. Fearing the legislature would meet at Annapolis 
on Friday, I consulted with General Devens upon the question 
whether his men could be relied upon to carry out my orders faith- 
fully in regard to the legislature. He assured me that while he had 
not examined into the question of the propriety or legality of any 
such action as dispersing or arresting the members of the legislature 
in the contingency mentioned, he had reported to me for orders, 
and he should obey any order that I gave, and his men would obey 


any order that he gave, leaving the responsibility for giving them 
upon the commanding general. 

The effect of this communication upon Governor Hicks, I have 
never doubted, was to have him order the meeting of the legislature 
at Frederick, the other capital. I also believed that the protest 
about seizing the railroad was to get an excuse for making that 
change of place of meeting without giving the true reason. I am 
convinced that from the hour of my announcement of my purpose to 
so use the troops in keeping the peace, Maryland was as firmly 
a loyal State as any in the Union, so that I congratulated myself on 
the good effect of my announcement to the people of that State that 
the United States troops, and especially the troops of anti-slavery 
Massachusetts, had not come to Maryland to inaugurate a servile war 
or to promote negro insurrection. 

Imagine, if you can, my surprise, but not my grief or consternation, 
at what followed at home. We had no telegraphic communication with 
the outer world, save at Perry ville, where a member of the governor's 
staff, Major Ames, was stationed to forward me all communications 
by messenger from the governor, and to receive from me and transmit 
home such as were committed to him. Postal communication had been 
shut off. Major Ames had faithfully communicated all that had taken 
place, and Governor Andrew felt called upon to reprimand me for what 
I had done on the slave question, upon which our people were as 
sensitive one way as the people of the South were the other. 

Will the reader appreciate my position ? I was a life-long Demo- 
crat, and but lately the Breckenridge candidate for governor, and 
held, therefore, slavery as a constitutional institution. I was in 
command of Massachusetts troops, eight tenths of whom were anti- 
slavery men. I had been reprimanded by my governor for refusing 
to aid slaves in attempting to recover their freedom, and, worse than 
that, for offering the services of those troops to prevent a negro 
insurrection. Many of the people of Massachusetts had almost 
deified John Brown for his raid into Virginia. 

Till May 6 no mail brought me information as to the manner in 
which the matter was received or understood. But after that I could 
imagine the platforms and the press denouncing what I had believed 
to be the most patriotic act of my life. Added to the labor of pre- 
paring my defence, was the fact that under the orders of General 


Scott, I was prepared to march to the Relay House, within eight 
miles of Baltimore, and hold that very important point against I did 
not know what force or under what circumstances. 

What ought I to do ; stand to what I had done if right, and defend 
it, or resign my commission and go home? This is what I did do. 
Here is the governor's letter of reprimand and my reply: — 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Executive Department, 
Council Chamber, Boston, April 25, '61. 
General: — I have received through Major Ames a despatch transmitted 
from Perryville, detailing the proceedings at Annapolis from the time of 
your arrival off that port until the hour when Major Ames left you to 
return to Philadelphia. I wish to repeat the assurance of my entire 
satisfaction with the action you have taken with a single exception. If I 
rightly understood the telegraphic despatch, I think that your action in 
tendering to Governor Hicks the assistance of our Massachusetts troops 
to suppress a threatened servile insurrection among the hostile people of 
Maryland was unnecessary. I hope that the fuller despatches, which are 
on their way from you, may show the reasons why I should modify my 
opinion concerning that particular instance ; but in general I think that 
the matter of servile insurrection among the community in arms against 
the Federal Union is no longer to be regarded by our troops in a political, 
but solely in a military, point of view, and is to be contemplated as one of 
the inherent weaknesses of the enemy, from the disastrous operations of 
which we are under no obligation of a military character to guard them, 
in order that they maybe enabled to improve the security which our arms 
would afford, so as to prosecute with more energy their traitorous attacks 
upon a federal government. The mode in which such outbreaks are to 
be considered should depend entirely upon the loyalty or disloyalty of 
the community in which they occur ; and, in the vicinity of Annapolis, I 
can on this occasion perceive no reason of military policy why a force 
summoned to the defence of the federal government, at this moment of 
all others, should be offered to be diverted from its immediate duty, to 
help rebels who stand with arms in their hands, obstructing its progress 
toward the city of Washington. I entertain no doubt that whenever we 
shall have an opportunity to interchange our views personally on this 
subject, we shall arrive at entire concordance of opinion. 

Yours faithfully, 

John A. Andrew. 


Department of Annapolis. 
Headquarters, Annapolis, May 9, 1861. 

To His Excellency, John A. Andrew, 

Governor and Commander-in-Chief : 

Sir: — I have delayed replying to your excellency's despatch of the 
25th of April, in my other despatches, because as it involved disapproba- 
tion of an act done, couched in the kindest language, I suppose the 
interests of the country could not suffer in the delay ; and incessant labor 
up to the present moment has prevented me giving full consideration to 
the topic. Temporary illness which forbids bodily activity, gives me now 
a moment's pause. 

The telegraph, with more than usual accuracy, has rightly informed 
your excellency that I had offered the services of the Massachusetts 
troops under my command to aid the authorities in Maryland in suppress- 
ing the threatened slave insurrection. Fortunately for us all, the rumor 
of such an outbreak was without a substantial foundation. Assuming, as 
your excellency does in your despatch, that I was carrying on military 
operations in an enemy's country when a war a Voutrance was to be 
waged, my act might be a matter of discussion. And in that view, acting 
in the light of the Baltimore murders, and the apparent hostile position of 
Maryland, your excellency might, without mature reflection, have come to 
the conclusion of disapprobation expressed in your despatch. But the facts, 
especially as now aided by their results, will entirely justify my act, and 
reinstate me in your excellency's good opinion. 

True, I landed on the soil of Maryland against the formal protest of 
its governor and of the corporate authorities of Annapolis, and expecting 
opposition only from insurgents assembled in riotous contempt of the laws 
of the State. Before by letter, at the time of landing, by personal inter- 
view I had informed Governor Hicks that the soldiers of the Union, 
under my command, were armed only against the insurgents and disturbers 
of the peace of Maryland and of the United States. I received from 
Governor Hicks assurances of the loyalty of the State to the Union, — 
assurances which subsequent events have fully justified. The mayor of 
Annapolis also informed me that the city authorities would in no wise 
oppose me, but that I was in great danger from the excited and riotous 
crowds of Baltimore, pouring down upon me, and in numbers beyond the 
control of the police. I assured both the governor and the mayor that I 
had no fear of a Baltimore or other mob, and that, supported by the 
authorities of the State and city, I should suppress all hostile demonstra- 
tions against the laws of Maryland and the United States, and that I 
would protect both myself and the city of Annapolis from any disorderly 


persons whatsoever. On the morning following my landing, I was 
informed that the city of Annapolis and environs were in danger from an 
insurrection of the slave population, in defiance of the laws of the State. 
What was I to do ? I had promised to put down a white mob and to 
preserve and enforce the laws against that. Ought I to allow a black one 
any preference in the breach of the laws? I understood that I was 
armed against all infractions of the laws, whether by white or black, and 
upon that understanding I acted, certainly with promptness and efficiency; 
and your excellency's shadow of disapprobation, arising from a mis- 
understanding of the facts, has caused all the regret I have for that 
action. The question seemed to me to be neither military nor political, 
and was not to be so treated. It was simply a question of good faith and 
honesty of purpose. The benign effect of my course was instantly seen. 
The good but timid people of Annapolis, who had fled from their houses 
at our approach, immediately returned ; business resumed its accustomed 
channels; quiet and order prevailed in the city; confidence took the place 
of distrust, friendship of enmity, brotherly kindness of sectional hate, and 
I believe to-day there is no city in the Union more loyal than the city of 
Annapolis. I think,. therefore, I may safely point to the results for my 
justification. The vote of the neighboring county of Washington, a few 
days since, for its delegate to the legislature, wherein four thousand out of 
five thousand votes were thrown for a delegate favorable to the Union, is 
among the many happy fruits of firmness of puq)ose, efficiency of action, 
and integrity of mission. I believe, indeed, that it will not require a 
personal interchange of views, as suggested in your despatch, to bring 
our minds in accordance; a simple statement of the facts will suffice. 

But I am to act hereafter, it may be, in an enemy's country, among a 
servile population, when the question may arise, as it has not yet arisen, 
as well in a moral and Christian as in a political and military point of 
view, What shall I do? Will your excellency bear with me a moment 
while this question is discussed ? 

I appreciate fully your excellency's suggestion as to the inherent 
weakness of the rebels, arising from the preponderance of their servile 
population. The question, then, is, In what manner shall we take 
advantage of that weakness ? By allowing, and of course arming, that 
population to rise upon the defenceless women and children of the country, 
carrying rapine, arson, and murder — all the horrors of San Domingo a 
million times magnified — among those whom we hope to reunite with us 
as brethren, many of whom are already so, and all who are worth 
preserving will be, when this horrible madness shall have passed away 
or be threshed out of them ? Would your excellency advise the troops 


under my command to make war in person upon the defenceless women 
and children of any part of the Union, accompanied with brutalities too 
horrible to be named ? You will say, " God forbid." If we may not do 
so in person, shall we arm others to do so over whom we can have no 
restraint, exercise no control, and who, when once they have tasted blood, 
may turn the very arms we put in their hands against ourselves, as a 
part of the oppressing white race ? The reading of history, so familiar to 
your excellency, will tell you the bitterest cause of complaint which our 
fathers had against Great Britain in the War of the Revolution was the 
arming by the British Ministry of the red man with the tomahawk and 
the scalping knife against the women and children of the colonies, so that 
the phrase, " May we not use all the means which God and Nature have 
put in our power to subjugate the colonies ? " has passed into a legend of 
infamy against the leader of that ministry who used it in Parliament. 
Shall history teach us in vain ? Could we justify ourselves to ourselves ? 
Although with arms in our hands amid the savage wildness of camp and 
field, we may have blunted many of the finer moral sensibilities in letting 
loose four millions of worse than savages upon the homes and hearths of 
the South. Can we be justified to the Christian community of Massa- 
chusetts ? "Would such a course be consonant with the teachings of our 
holy religion? I have a very decided opinion on the subject, and if 
anyone desires, as I know your excellency does not, this unhappy contest 
to be prosecuted in that manner, some instrument other than myself must 
be found to carry it on. I may not discuss the political bearings of this 
topic. When I went from under the shadow of nrv roof tree, I left all 
politics behind me, to be resumed only when every part of the Union is 
loyal to the flag, and the potency of the government through the ballot- 
box is established. 

Passing the moral and Christian view, let us examine the subject as a 
military question. Is not that State already subjugated which requires 
the bayonets of those armed in opposition to its rulers, to preserve it from 
the horrors of a servile war? As the least experienced of military men, 
I would have no doubt of the entire subjugation of a State brought to 
that condition. When, therefore, — unless I am better advised, — any 
community in the United States who have met me in honorable warfare, 
or even in the prosecution of a rebellious war in an honorable manner, 
shall call upon me for protection against the nameless horrors of a servile 
insurrection, they shall have it, and from the moment that call is obeyed, 
I have no doubt we shall be friends and not enemies. 

The possibilities that dishonorable means of defence are to be taken by 
the rebels against the government, I do not now contemplate. If, as has 


been done in a single instance, my men are to be attacked by poison, or 
as in another, stricken down by the assassin's knife, and thus murdered, 
the community using such weapons may be required to be taught that it 
holds within its own border a more potent means for deadly purposes and * 
indiscriminate slaughter than any which it can administer to us. 

Trusting that these views may meet your excellency's approval, I have 
the honor to be, 

Yery respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Bestj. F. Butler. 

I have not one word, or one letter, to alter or change in the com- 
munication I then wrote. The only argument attempted to be set 
up against my position was by one of Governor Andrew's staff officers, 
that I had no right to use Massachusetts troops, which I was ordered 
to take directly to Washington, for the purpose of putting down a 
servile insurrection, entirely ignoring the fact that the servile insur- 
rection was placed before me in a loyal State as a reason for opposing 
my being allowed to land in that loyal State. I was to be opposed 
in my march because the people of an always loyal State believed I 
was landing on its soil, not with the intent of going to the defence 
of the capital, but for the purpose of aiding their slaves in a servile 
war. That fear being withdrawn, neither my troops nor any other 
of the United States forces met the least opposition from the people 
of that State in their march to Washington. 

The only notice that I took thereafter of this question was when 
it appeared that Governor Andrew had so dealt with his own letter 
that injurious comments were published in the newspapers upon this 
action and his reprimand, before I had made my reply to it. I pub- 
lished both letters in self-defence, — one such article issued in the 
New York Tribune of May 4, 1861. 


HAD nothing further to do with Annapolis or its 
concerns subsequent to the 5th of May. It was on 
that day I marched for the purpose of cutting off 
railroad passage between Harper's Ferry and Wash- 
ington, for at Harper's Ferry a very considerable 
body of rebel troops was gathering for an attack on 

It may be well to take a little time just here in doing what has not 
been done, namely, giving some account of the condition of things 
in Washington, as to the state of mind and action of the executive 
and military officers there. 

In the winter of 1861, President Buchanan had thought it neces- 
sary to reorganize his cabinet, in whole or in part, in view of the 
threatened secession of the Southern States, as fears were entertained 
that there might be an early resort to arms in support of that 
secession. Consequently Lieutenant-General Scott, commanding 
the armies of the United States, was called to Washington to con- 
sult with the President, and to take charge of any military prepara- 
tion that might be needed. 

Rumors also were rife that the advent of Mr. Lincoln in Washington 
might be opposed and hindered in every way possible, and that there 
would be an open outbreak against his inauguration on the 4th of 
March. That probability was so serious that Scott advised that all 
the available troops of the United States army which could be spared 
from other posts of duty should be assembled at Washington. A 
considerable number were brought there, and by way of exhibiting to 
the country a state of preparation, Scott ordered a review and parade 
of all the troops assembled there, on the 2 2d of February. 



Ex-President John Tyler, who had been elected Vice-President 
under Harrison, prevailed on President Buchanan to issue an order, 
late in the evening of the 21st of February, revoking the parade. 
This order was issued over the heads of General Scott and the new 
Secretary of War Holt. On the next day General Sickles persuaded 
the President to withdraw his order and permit the parade to take 
place. This was done so late in the afternoon that Scott's exhibit 
of his forces showed only two companies of the United States troops 
taking part in the procession on the 22d in honor of the birthday 
of the "Father of the Country." 

Scott's attempt, therefore, to show the strength of his army, and so 
avert threatened danger to Lincoln, only resulted in showing its 

The whole number of troops was insignificant enough, but thus 
by a trick the whole Southern people were made to believe that the 
United States army then in defence of Washington was scarcely 
more than a trifle. The reader will remember that this same Tyler 
was the delegate from Virginia in the Peace Convention who made a 
speech protesting against the mounting of cannon in Fortress Monroe, 
pointing over the "sacred soil of Virginia." The " Peace Congress," 
as we have seen, came to nought or worse. 

With all Scott's loyalty and zeal he could get but a mere hand- 
ful of troops into Washington. That he was both loyal and zealous 
is shown by his declaration to Douglas that he "had fought fifty 
years under the flag, and would fight for it, and under it, till 
death, " which was to his high honor and glory. 

The population of Washington was substantially secession, and 
much of it virulently so. Hundreds of clerks in the departments 
during this winter resigned their positions. Several thousand 
troops were assembling at Harper's Ferry, and two thousand more 
were below Washington near Fort Washington, one of the outer 
defences of the city. The rebels relied on the accession of large 
numbers from Baltimore, only thirty odd miles away by railroad. 

The Sixth Regiment of my brigade arrived in Washington on 
the 19th of April, having been obstructed, and some of them murdered, 
in their passage through Baltimore. 

From 'that hour Washington could get no reliable communi- 
cation from any source ; the wires had been cut, and the bridges of 


the only road connecting with the North had been burned. This 
state of affairs continued until the 27th of April, when I opened the 
route through Annapolis. 

The condition of mind of the President is described very graphi- 
cally in the fourth volume, chapter V., of the "History" of Nicolay 
and Hay ; but I beg leave to say wrongly described in this : a care- 
ful reading of that description would lead one to infer that Lincoln 
was in a state of abject fear. From a long and most intimate 
knowledge of him in times of danger and trouble, I desire to record 
my protest against any such inference. After the 22d of April, 
Washington was never in any danger of being captured for the next 

Montgomery, Ala., Showing State Capitol in 1861. 

From Sketch made in 1861. 

two years, until Lee crossed the Potomac. Why it was not captured 
within ten days after Fort Sumter was fired upon has always since 
been a subject of careful consideration on my part, and a thing which 
I have been entirely unable to understand. 

Davis must have known, and did know, that the firing on Sumter 
was as pronounced an act of war as was the battle of Gettysburg. 
Indeed, the Confederate Congress at Montgomery passed an act 
declaring Avar against the United States, and giving the power to 
its president to issue letters of marque, within two days after the 
14th of April. On the 17th of April, Davis issued such proclama- 
tion. True, this act of the Confederate Congress was kept secret 
until the 6th day of May, for it was passed in secret session and the 


seal of secrecy was not removed till then. That secrecy, however, 
has nothing to do with the question under consideration. The rebels 
knew it was war. 

Davis had, around Charleston, four or five thousand troops, fully 
armed and equipped, who had been organizing and drilling, with 
Beauregard in command. Here was a disciplined army, and one 
larger than could be got together elsewhere in the United States in 
ten days. Anderson had but seventy-five artillery men in all. 

Leaving five hundred men to watch Anderson's seventy-five and 
work their batteries against the fort, why did not Davis cut the 
telegraph wires connecting with Washington, put say four thousand 
of his troops in the cars, and in thirty-six hours at farthest, — pass- 
ing through the State of North Carolina, whose governor had 
refused to furnish any troops at the call of Lincoln, and through 
Virginia, which then had a convention called to pass an ordinance 
of secession, which they did on the 17th of April, — march his rebel 
column across Long Bridge, where there were no forces to oppose 
him, and capture Washington ? 

The temptation to do it must have been enormous and should 
have been controlling. The road was open, and he would have met 
no opposition. A large part of the officers of the regular troops then 
in Washington, as elsewhere, threw up their commissions then or 
soon afterwards. Lee, then relied upon by General Scott to com- 
mand the Union forces, threw up his commission and took command 
of the rebel army of Virginia, on the 22cl of April. 

The prize to be won was gloriously magnificent. The capital 
of the nation, with its archives, its records and its treasure, and 
all of its executive organization, was there. He might not have 
captured the President and his secretaries, but their only safety 
would have been in flight to Philadelphia by sea, for they could 
not have got through the hostile city of Baltimore, except in dis- 
guise, as Lincoln came through that city to get to Washington 
before the 4th of March. There was no vessel by which to flee. 
The capture and occupation of Washington would almost have 
insured the Confederacy at once a place by recognition as a power 
among the nations of the earth. 

The great hope and dependence of the Confederacy to bring the 
Rebellion to a favorable close lay in the recognition of its independ- 


ence by one or more foreign states ; and if one of the more consid- 
erable had so recognized the Confederacy as a power, and not an 
insurrectionary body simply, all the rest would have followed. As 
it was, it was with difficulty for months that such a thing was 
prevented. This lack of recognition was largely due to the di- 
plomacy of Seward, sustained by the energetic exhibition of the 
enormous capacity and power in raising armies shown by the North, 
and to the fact that no signal success was achieved by the rebels. 

I understand the diplomatic rule upon this subject held by the 
powers of Europe, is that when the capital of a country is taken 
and held by armed force, by an insurgent power, which has duly 
organized a government, the possession of that capital so taken is 
a ground upon which every nation may properly proceed to open 
diplomatic relations with the insurgent government so holding the 
capital; and further, if this insurgent government demonstrates 
ability to maintain itself, other nations ought to proceed to open 
diplomatic relations with it. 

At any rate, if the Confederacy had made the capture by such a 
bold and brilliant dash, it would have been a disaster to our gov- 
ernment of almost incalculable weight and potency. Maryland 
undoubtedly would have hastened to join the Confederacy in such a 
contingency. That would have transferred the line of battle from 
the Potomac to the Susquehanna. Very probably Delaware would 
have in that event joined the Confederacy, or at least have remained 
neutral, as her leading statesman, Senator Bayard, said that if the 
war could not be averted, and if hio State preferred war to the peaceful 
separation of the States, he would cheerfully and gladly resign his 
seat in the Senate. As it was, however, gallant little Delaware 
remained always loyal and sent sixty odd per cent, of her military 
population — that is, white men between eighteen and forty-five 
years of age — to do good service in the Union army. 

Jefferson Davis could have, and if I had been at his elbow, as 
he once desired that I should be, would have attended divine ser- 
vice in his own pew in the church at Washington as President of 
the Confederacy. I know not what prevented him save his education 
at West Point, where the necessity of a rapid movement in warlike 
operations is taught in the negative. That sort of instruction, as 
we shall see as we go on, caused several direful results in the move- 


ments of both armies, more especially in the delay in the discharge 
of the mine at Petersburg, which caused the loss of some thousands 
of brave soldiers, and in the delays of Early, which lost him 
Washington in the summer of 1864. 

Within a few days preceding Sunday, the 5th day of May, I 
was called to Washington upon two occasions, each of which for- 
tuitously resulted in a consultation with General Scott. 

On the first of these occasions I reached Washington quite early 
in the morning, and as I could not see General Scott until eleven 
o'clock, I called upon the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Chase, at 
his office in the department. I found him busily engaged in 
studying a map of Virginia in company with Major McDowell. 
Chase said to me : — 

"Look here, General, I want your attention to this matter," point- 
ing to the map. "Here is Manassas Junction, where there is the 
junction of the system of railroads which must bring the rebels 
together to make an attack upon Washington. I think that junction 
should be taken and held by us." 

After studying the matter carefully for some little time, I 
said : — 

"Yes, I think there is the spot which should be fortified and 
held in order to protect Washington. The Confederates are now 
assembled at Harper's Ferry. Their plan was to come down from 
Harper's Ferry to the Relay House and take Washington from that 
side; but as Maryland will not declare for secession I feel very 
sure the other point of which they will take possession will be 
Manassas Junction. They will not do that immediately, but will 
wait until the vote by the people is taken by Virginia to secede, 
which is fixed to be on the 23d. General Scott, being a Virginian, 
I know is very anxious not to move on her k sacred soil ' until after 
that vote. But the rebel government is now coming to Richmond 
as the capital of the Confederacy, so certain are they of the result 
of the vote of the people. If they can invade Virginia on their 
part, I do not see why we may not enter the State on the other. 
I think we should march to Manassas Junction. Six regiments will 
be enough to hold it. They could easily be spared from Washington, 
for they are there now only to defend Washington, and at Manassas 
Junction they would be defending her all the more surely. For no 


rebel division will attempt to attack Washington with us behind them 
at Manassas Junction, cutting off their supplies and communications. 
Let us go there and form an intrenchment as a nucleus of a very 
much larger force." 

Chase appeared impressed by my advice and suggestions and said 
they were his own, and asked me if I would walk over with him 
and see General Scott. I did so, and was called upon to explain 
the proposition to General Scott. But he bade it wait, as I sup- 
posed he would, and the movement was never made, although it 
was very earnestly pressed upon the President and Cabinet by Mr. 
Chase. Scott did not consent to have our armies cross the Potomac 
until the movement in which Ellsworth was killed, on the 24th of 
May, the day after the vote on the ordinance of secession. On that 
occasion we marched into Alexandria to take a position at Arlington 
Heights, within short cannon shot of Washington. 

It may not be improper to state that I was sustained in my view of 
the importance of the occupation of Manassas Junction by the Com- 
mittee on the Conduct of the War. That committee made a very full 
and stringent report upon the subject, in which it characterized the 
omission to seize Manassas Junction at this time as the great error 
of the campaign. 

There would have been this advantage at any rate if we had 
intrenched ourselves at Manassas Junction : the disastrous battle of 
Bull Run would never have been fought. 

My second interview with General Scott was, as I had occasion 
to remember, on the 3d of May, and at his request. He said he 
was desirous of holding the junction of the Washington branch of 
the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad with the main branch which led west 
up the Patapsco River to Harper's Ferry. This junction was at the 
Relay House, about eight miles from Baltimore and within my 
department. He stated that the rebels were gathering in con- 
siderable force at Harper's Ferry, and it might portend an attack 
upon the capital, and in that event they would use the railroad in 
transportation, having seized enough of the engines and cars to 
make that practicable. He desired to know if I knew anything of 
the topography of the country about that junction. I told him, I 
had a general acquaintance with it, having passed over it fre- 
quently. He asked me how many troops I thought would be 



required to hold the place, taking into account the possibility of an 
attack from Baltimore. I told him that my belief was that it 
could be held with two good regiments and a battery of my light 

Fortified Position at the "Relay House," on B. & O. R. R. 

He thought that I required a very small force, and I replied : — 
" The railroad comes down for miles beside high cliffs, the water 
of the river running below. The viaduct crosses the Patapsco 
River opposite the junction, and can be commanded by artillery 
for a mile or more, the guns being posted on a small lunette at the 
head of the viaduct. In case of a threatened attack troops can be 


brought from Washington in three hours, and we can, by picketing 
out on the road towards Harper's Ferry, ascertain any danger or an 
approach from that direction." • 

"When can you occupy it?" said he. 

" If necessary, within twenty-four hours after I get the order at 
Annapolis. Indeed, I Avill agree, if you desire and will send me 
the Sixth Regiment, to be ready there for Sunday services at ten 
o'clock to-morrow." 

" Very well, I will order Mansfield, the general commanding at 
Washington, to have the Massachusetts regiment sent from here in 
time to meet you." 

" I will meet it at the junction, and send my battery across the 
country," I answered. 

"Without an escort? " asked he. 

"They won't need any more than a yellow dog anywhere in 
Maryland, as far as I have seen." 

I bowed and left the presence. 

We were at the Relay House at eleven o'clock the next morning. 

Before three o'clock we had our camping-ground selected, tents 
pitched, the work commenced on our lunette, and two pieces of 
artillery covering the viaduct planted in position. I remained at 
that point just eight days, but it was always held so long as troops 
were necessary to guard that railroad. 

We occupied ourselves in drilling and* instructing our men, 
especially in guard and picket duty, in which they were most 
deficient. I spent my own time, when free from the routine of duty, 
in getting information from Baltimore of the state of things in that 
city. I soon found that it was utterly useless to take the reports 
of anybody who had no skill in estimating troops as to the number 
of men seen in a body. The most exaggerated statements were at 
first brought to me of the number of secessionists under arms in 
Baltimore. A company was always a regiment, and a light battery 
was always two hundred men. Reports were brought to me every 
day of large deposits of arms, ammunition, clothing, and equip- 
ments by the secessionists in Baltimore. 

After three or four days, I became very anxious to learn what 
was the true state of affairs in Baltimore. I was quite sure there 
were no troops thera, for I heard from many sources that troops 


were marching from Baltimore to Harper's Ferry, which could not 
have been the case if Baltimore expected any attack upon her, pro- 
vided there wa*s any intention of making a stand against her 

I determined to have satisfactory and reliable information. 
Therefore, by ruse, the details of which are not necessary here, I 
sent a staff officer, Captain Haggerty, into Baltimore. There he 
remained for three days, examining into everything, seeing every- 
body, and learning exactly the military condition there, with an 
accuracy and intelligence entirely trustworthy. 

I had reported to General Scott what military stores were in 
Baltimore from time to time. These reports were answered by my 
friend General Hamilton, his private secretary, with directions 
that when I thought it best I might capture these stores, and stop 
them from being sent to Harper's Ferry. Among the rest there was 
a large quantity of provisions reported as being prepared at a bakery 
in Baltimore for the support of the rebel troops at Harper's Ferry. 
I aiso informed General Scott I had ascertained that the limits of 
my department included Baltimore. In answer I received the fol- 
lowing from Colonel Hamilton : — 

General Scott desires me to invite your attention to certain guilty 
parties in Baltimore, namely, those connected with the guns and military 
cloths seized by your troops [at the Relaj; House], as well as to the baker 
who furnished supplies of bread for Harper's Ferry. It is probable that 
you will find them, on inquiry, proper subjects for seizure and examina- 
tion. He acknowledges your telegram of this morning, and is happy to 
find that Baltimore is within your department. 

Now, I was very anxious to go into Baltimore. I had no doubt, 
from all I had learned, that a properly equipped and managed expe- 
dition could seize Federal Hill and hold the place. I wanted 
to go for another reason : I had promised my old comrades of the 
Sixth Regiment, with whom I had served for many years, that I 
would march them through Baltimore and revenge the cowardly 
attack made upon them on the 19th of April. I desired to keep 
that promise. I had these orders from General Scott to seize 
property, arms, ammunition, and provisions in Baltimore, and the 
places where the guilty parties were to be found were given me. 


Now, how could I seize anybody or anything in Baltimore, unless- 
I went where they were ? 

Baltimore was in my military department, and in the absence of 
special orders to the contrary, I had as much right to go there as 
anywhere else if I chose, and surely there were no orders for me 
not to go into that city. 

It is but fair for me to say that I had the strongest possible sus- 
picion that if I asked General Scott for orders to occupy Baltimore 
he would refuse them, saying that men enough could not be spared 
from the defence of Washington to make the movement, and that 
he was waiting for more men. Now I believed and knew, and it so 
turned out, that it was comparatively as easy to capture Baltimore 
as it was to capture my supper. I knew it, but Scott did not. Was 
I not justified in acting upon my knowledge ? I agree that the 
expedition was called hazardous by the know-nothings and timid 
ones, and it has been said it was undertaken in a spirit of " bravado, '* 
as say Messrs. Nicolay and Hay in their Life of Lincoln, and that it 
was so looked upon by all those who did not know what they were 
talking and writing about ; but I did know. 

After it was done I was very much praised and applauded in some 
quarters for my bravery, daring, and courage in making the expedition, 
all of which were well enough for newspaper paragraphs, but I did 
not deserve plaudits. The greatest amount of my daring was that I 
ventured to do it without asking Scott's leave, as it afterwards turned 
out. But I do claim some credit that by vigilance and industry in 
getting knowledge which I used to find out what I wanted to know, 
I was certain of the exact state of things. I had the courage to rely 
on my convictions, which insured success. 

A Baltimorean by the name of Ross Winans, a gray-haired old 
man of more than three score and ten, a bitter rebel, and reputed to 
be worth 115,000,000, had made five thousand pikes of the John 
Brown pattern, to be used by the rebels at Baltimore to oppose the 
march of the United States troops. Some of these very pikes were 
used by the mob which attacked the Sixth Regiment on its march 
to Washington. He was also the builder of the Winans steam 
gun, a very much relied upon instrument of warfare or assassination, 
costing a very large sum which my troops had captured coming 
down from Frederick on the 10th day of May. I knew that he 


was up at Frederick, some forty miles away, where trie legislature 
was then in session, and was going to make a secession speech on 
Monday night, and I believed if we captured him and carried him to 
Annapolis, organizing a military commission and proving upon him 
his treasonable acts, especially if he were taken while encouraging 
armed rebellion in his speech, he would be a very proper specimen 
traitor to be hanged. 

I had no doubt a military commission composed of the officers of 
the Sixth Regiment, whose comrades were shot down in Baltimore 
by a mob, some of whom carried the Winans pikes, would be very 
likely to find such facts as would enable it to advise the com- 
manding general of the department, according to the rules of war, 
to hang Mr. Winans. I also thought that if such a man, worth 
115,000,000, were hanged for treason, it would convince the people 
of Maryland, at least, that the expedition we were upon was no 
picnic excursion, and would show those disposed to join the rebel 
army, and especially the officers of the regular army who were 
throwing up their commissions, that we were engaged in suppressing 
a treasonable rebellion. And as my act in giving such an example 
could not be repudiated by the government unless it hanged me, 
I considered that the object in view was such as to justify the 
hazard of the experiment on my part. 

Thereupon on Monday, I organized a train of cars, got my artillery 
ready to be loaded on platform cars, and put three covered cars at the 
head of the train. I headed it towards Harper's Ferry, so as to make 
it appear that an attack was to be made on that place. As the grade 
towards Harper's Ferry was very heavy I took care to have a second 
heavy engine at the rear of the train. 

My attention had been called to two rather bright-looking young 
men, with fast trotting horses hitched to light wagons, who had come 
from the direction of the city of Baltimore to spend the day with us. 
I kept my own counsel carefully, and put a confidential staff officer at 
the telegraph office. At six o'clock I started my train of cars in the 
direction of Harper's Ferry with both engines working. As we started, 
one of my staff, whom I had sent to watch, observed these two young 
men start with their horses at a very fast gait for Baltimore. 

This was called to my attention, and the officer said : " Why not 
arrest them ? " 


"Let them go," said I; "their business is to report at Baltimore. 
They will report that we have gone to Harper's Ferry, and that 
may cause their troops, if there are any, to go there too." 

I chose the hour of six o'clock for departure, as, at the rate I 
intended to move, it would bring me at the station in Baltimore 
just at sunset, which was the hour I thought best fitted for me to 
arrive there, as darkness gathers very suddenly in that latitude after 

When we had marched about two miles up the railroad we 
halted. In the two forward cars was a company of picked men of 
the Sixth Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Watson, with my military secretary, the late Richard S. Fay, acting 
as his aid. This company was detached to go to Frederick to arrest 
Ross Winans, and bring him down to the Relay House, and then by 
the shortest road to take him to Annapolis. All of this was done 
with promptness and despatch, and in the morning Mr. Winans 
found himself at my headquarters in Annapolis with sentinels 
before his door. 

The remainder of the train with the troops then backed down 
past the Relay House toward Baltimore, and just at sunset we were 
at the Baltimore station. There was substantially nobody there, 
because the passenger and baggage trains had long ago ceased 
to run. 

The orders which contained the first information that the troops 
had of their destination, and what was to be done, were distributed 
on the cars. These orders informed them of the manner of their 
line of march from the place of debarkation to Federal Hill, under 
a competent guide, and instructed them that they should take 
possession of it, and make necessary preparation to hold it ; that 
the battery would be distributed in three sections, one in the centre, 
one in the rear of the first two companies, and one in the front of 
the last two companies ; that no halt in the march should be made 
or any shot fired except to repel an attack ; that no soldier should 
fire his musket without command ; that if any shot were fired from 
any house by which any man was hurt, the column should halt, a 
detail should be put in that house, and the building fired, the 
column remaining, at least until it was fully burned, so as to 
protect its rear. 



The column was formed and the march began. We had gone 
forward but a few rods when a most violent thunder-storm set in, 
with furious wind and gusts. The flashes were incessant, and the 
thunder rolled almost a continuous volley. At one moment the 
flashes of lightning would light up everything with an intense 
brilliancy, and in the tithe of a second the darkness was equally 
intense. In that storm nobody could hear us. In the darkness nobody 
could discern the column, and nobody knew that we were there. 

Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md. 
From a Sketch made on day of occupation. 

As I looked back from my horse, while the column slowly wound 
up the hill, the effect of the rolling thunder and playing lightning 
that made for an instant the point of every bayonet a glittering 
torch, was gloriously magnificent. The whole scene affords an 
excellent opportunity for verifying the descriptions of the news- 
paper reports published at the time of my entrance into the city. 
I quote # the following from the Baltimore Clipper of the next 
morning, May 14, 1861 : — 


On the road to the hill the streets were crowded with people who 
greeted the military with cheers at every step, the ladies at the windows 
and doors joining in the applause by waving their handkerchiefs. 

Statements so diametrically opposed, perhaps, should be verified 
on the one side or the other. 

The next morning after our arrival, I received, on Federal Hill, 
the following note from the mayor of the city : — 

I have just been informed that you have arrived at the Camden 
Station with a large body of troops under your command. As the 
sudden arrival of a force will create much surprise in the community, I 
beg to be informed whether you propose that it shall remain at the 
Camden Station, so that the police may be notified and proper precautions 
may be taken to prevent any disturbance of the peace. 

I had marched through the settled part of Baltimore, and the 
police hadn't found it out. It was intended as a surprise. 

Scouts were at once sent out with lanterns to examine the sur- 
roundings. To show how wet we were, let me say that the large 
cavalry boots which I had on were filled with water, and when my 
foot came upon the ground in dismounting, that water was dashed 
directly in my face. 

As we came to the foot of the hill, a flash showed me a very 
large wood-yard beside the street. I immediately made a large 
detail and sent down to the yard. The men found carts, and 
soon built up very large fires of wood on different parts of the 
hill, and near the bivouacs of the troops. These fires were kept 
burning, and by them we had our quarters properly illuminated, 
and the men were enabled to dry and warm themselves, and make 
their coffee. 

There was a little German tavern at the top of the hill, with 
a beer garden attached to it. I took jDossession of a room in it, 
and had a huge fire made there. Placing my despatch book so that 
the water would not run off me on to it, I at once wrote a despatch 
to Major Morris, of the United States army, in command of Fort 
McHenry, to which, before I had left Annapolis, I had sent as a 
reinforcement Major Devens with his battalion. I have no copy of 
that despatch, but it was in substance this : — 



Major Morris, United States Army, 

Commanding Fort McHenry : 

I have taken possession of Baltimore. My troops are on Federal Hill, 
which I can hold with the aid of my artillery. If I am attacked to-night, 
please open upon Monument Square with your mortars. I will keep the 
hill fully lighted with fires during the night so that you may know where 
we are and not hit us. Major Devens will know my handwriting. 

I found an intelligent German lad who said he knew very well 
the road to Fort McHenry, and one of my staff officers loaned him 
his horse to take the despatch. In a short time the messenger 

Headquarters at Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md. 
From a Sketch made on day of occupation. 

returned with a note from the brave old major commanding the fort, 
stating that the order would be obeyed. 

I had scarcely got my despatch away when Captain Farmer, of 
Lowell, who had been scouting on his own hook, reported to me 
with his lantern, saying : — 

" General, I have been informed that this hill is mined and we 
shall all be blown up." 

"Well, Captain," said I, "there will be one comfort in that; we 
shall at least get dry. But I will go with you and reconnoitre." 

We went down under the hill and examined the place, and we 
found that the hill had been mined, and that a deep cave, which 
we explored, had been dug under it. When we got to the farther 


end of it we found the utensils and other tools of the miners which 
showed that it had been mined — for the very peaceable and proper 
purpose of getting sand. 

I returned to our quarters and got a supper of fried bacon and 
eggs, hard tack, a little soaked by the rain, and some very powerful 
Limburger cheese. One of the soldiers brought me his dish of 
coffee, which I preferred to the landlord's beer, because I desired 
to keep wide awake. 

Perhaps it may not be uninteresting to know the strict accounta- 
bility to which the officers of the army were held at that day. 

I gave my quartermaster an order to get the wood. He gave his 
receipt for it to the owner and returned the wood so taken in his 
account. It was immediately charged to the commanding general, 
because it was more wood than the army regulations allowed to that 
number of men, and I was obliged to get a special approval of the 
Secretary of War before that account could be settled. 

Desiring it to be understood by the inhabitants of Baltimore that 
I had come there to stay, I sat down, although somewhat tired, and 
wrote a proclamation setting forth the fact of my presence; that 
I held the city in capture ; that I proposed to give every good 
citizen protection, and to deal properly with every enemy of the 
United States. In it I laid down rules and regulations for the 
military government of the city, and had it published in an extra 
issue of the Clipper the next forenoon. 

The early morning train brought our camp equipments, and we 
soon had a settled encampment. 

Immediately after breakfast the next morning, I received a call 
from the mayor and Marshal Kane, the chief of police and a leader 
of the secessionists. They inquired as to my intentions, and 
I pointed to the proclamation. I inquired of them whether there 
were any arms or ammunition or munitions of war concealed. 
Marshal Kane said that he knew of some, and would deliver them 
up. A large number, I think three thousand muskets, I knew he 
denied knowledge of. Many others I knew of. I sent a company 
under charge of Doctor Hare, of Philadelphia, the chemist, and 
had them all taken to Fort McHenry. I think Ross Winans' 
pikes were caused to be delivered by Marshal Kane at the same 


I received the report of my secretary that Ross Winans had been 
captured, and was held in arrest. I also received notice that 
Reverdy Johnson, the rank and bitter secessionist, and worse than 
others because he concealed it, who was afterwards sent by Seward 
down to New Orleans, where I was in command, to interfere with 
my administration, was going to Washington to get Winans' 
release. How much of Winans' $15,000,000 it cost him, I do 
not know, but it should have been a very large sum, because he 
evidently relied upon its potency. He was released on Johnson's 
representations ; and some months after, when it was found necessary 
by another commanding general to arrest him, he was again released 
and allowed to go abroad. 

I endeavored to do my duty by him, however. Hearing that this 
application was to be made, I telegraphed the Secretary of War, 
Cameron, not to allow him to be released, at least not until I could 
be present and explain the depth of his guilt. But the release 
was by the order of the Secretary of State, and I was afterwards 
recalled from my command because the order would have had to 
pass through me as commanding-general, and it never would have 
got by me until it was signed by the President or the Secretary of 
War, because Seward had no authority or power in any such matter. 
I should not have obeyed that order any more than an order from 
him to arrest anybody, a thing he boasted he could have done by 
the "tinkling of his little bell." 

On Sunday, not caring for another dinner of my Dutch friend's 
preparing, although he did as well as he could, and desiring to 
show the secessionists of Baltimore that I had them fully in hand, 
I mounted my horse, and, accompanied by three of my staff, and an 
orderly following, rode deliberately half through the city to Monu- 
ment Square, and took dinner at the Gilmore House. After din- 
ner one company of the Sixth Regiment from Lowell, feeling a 
little uneasy about their general, asked the commander on Federal 
Hill if they might march down into the city and escort him home 
as a matter of personal compliment, and he permitted that to be 

Having been forty hours in the saddle and on the march, and 
not having removed my clothes, I felt that I had a right to take 
some sleep. I failed to get much, however, because necessarily 


interrupted whenever any news came which might be of consequence, 
and camp rumors were very rife. 

At half-past eight o'clock on the morning of the 15th, I had brought 
to me in bed a communication from General Scott, dated the 14th, 
which, if not appalling, was certainly amusing. It was in the fol- 
lowing words : — 

Sir: — Your hazardous occupation of Baltimore was made without 
my knowledge, and, of course, without my approbation. It is a godsend 
that it is without conflict of arms. It is also reported that you have sent 
a detachment to Frederick ; but this is impossible. Not a word have I 
received from you as to either movement. Let me hear from you. 

To a communication couched in that language I made no reply. 
He had known from the public press that the movement had been 
successful. Not only that, but what he claimed to be impossible, 
my sending a " detachment " of troops to Frederick, he knew had 
not only been devised but had actually been done successfully, as 
I had captured Ross Winans, the arch-traitor whom I had sent for, 
and had brought him and the troops back safely, — another " god- 
send " in my favor. 

Knowing that I could hold Baltimore as easily as I could my 
hat, and knowing also that ScOtt knew all I could tell him, I 
thought I was not the " sir " to answer the communication of the 
commanding-general so addressed; and during the day I busied 
myself in taking charge of everything of warlike material in 

On the evening of that day, I received another communication 
informing me that the President and Cabinet had concluded to 
promote me to the rank of major-general, the senior in service in 
the war. 

I had reason to believe, and did believe, that although I was per- 
fectly justified in doing what I had done by every rule of military 
law and right, and above all by my full success in so doing and 
holding the city, it would not be agreeable to Scott, and that he 
was, as I afterwards found him, in a furious rage about it. The 
reason of his anger was this: He had conceived a project of 
capturing all points around Washington, such as Baltimore and 
Harper's Ferry, by moving great bodies of troops as soon as he 


thought he had enough to make a sufficient display for a lieutenant- 

On the 29th of April, when he sent for me, he had sketched to 
me the following plan of attack on Baltimore : — 

I suppose that a column from Washington of three thousand men, 
another from York of three thousand men, and a third from Perryville 
or Elkton, by land or water, or both, of three thousand men, and a fourth 
from Annapolis of three thousand men might suffice. But it may be, and 
many persons think it probable, that Baltimore, before we can get ready, 
will voluntarily re- open the communication through that city, and beyond, 
each way, for troops, army supplies, and travellers. When can we be 
ready for the movement on Baltimore on this side ? Colonel Mansfield 
has satisfied me that we want at least ten thousand additional troops here 
to give security to the capital ; and, as yet, we have less than ten thou- 
sand, including some very indifferent militia from the District. With that 
addition, we will be able, I think, to make the detachment for Baltimore. 
When can we be ready? Mansfield has satisfied me that we want at least 
ten thousand additional troops to give security to the capital. 

Now, I had learned, and so I supposed had Scott, that Lee, 
having taken command of the Army of Northern Virginia on the 
23d, had, by general order of that date, ordered his forces at Alex- 
andria and along the Potomac to act on the defensive, and to go into 
camps of instruction and collect men and provisions; and what 
Mansfield wanted with ten thousand more troops to assure the safety 
of the capital for the immediate future, I could not conceive. I 
felt thoroughly satisfied that the only thing that could have prompted 
the waiting for this movement was to give time for Davis, who 
had ordered troops to gather at Harper's Ferry to defend Baltimore, 
so that then there might be a grand flourish. And with my usual 
folly in bowing down to "Fuss and Feathers," I made some sug- 
gestions in that direction, shaped so as not to offend my chief, with 
whom I desired to remain on good terms. 

The plan of this meeting of twelve thousand troops in Baltimore 
went the round of military circles. To get some more troops to 
secure Washington, a movement was made on the 9th from Elkton 
to bring in from Perryville and elsewhere quite a large number of 
men. The plan was to land them at Locust Point, below Balti- 
more, under the cover of the guns of the navy, and march them 


around Baltimore until they could step on to the Washington road. 
And this was done while I was at the Relay House, and went on 
immediately under my eyes. Now to have all this preparation 
upset and put in ridicule by a militia brigadier with a thousand 
men, naturally galled the lieutenant-general. 

He had been a good soldier, was a pompous old man, magnified 
his office, and was a little irritable. 

In my first dispatch to General Scott, after I reached the Relay 
House from Washington, I referred to my suggestion and con- 
cluded in the following words : — 

I find the people here exceedingly friendly, and I have no doubt that 
with my present force I could march through Baltimore. I am the more 
convinced of this because I learn that, for several days, many of the 
armed secessionists have left for Harper's Ferry, or have gone forth 
plundering the country. I trust my acts will meet your approbation, 
whatever you may think of my suggestions. 

I did really think if I took Baltimore I should please Scott. 

On the 15th of May General Cadwallader came to Baltimore with 
his three thousand troops, a part of Scott's twelve thousand that were 
to be used in order to get there, with the following order : — 

Washington, D. C, May 15, 1861. 

To Brevet Major-General Cadwallader, 

Or Commanding General of Baltimore : 

If Brevet Major-General Cadwallader be in Baltimore with regiments 
of Pennsylvanians, let him halt there with them and relieve Brigadier- 
General Butler in command of the Department of Annapolis, whereupon 
the brigadier will repair to Fortress Monroe and assume command of that 

important point. 

Winfield Scott. 

This was before I had seen Scott. On the same day Cad- 
wallader assumed command. As soon as relieved, I left Baltimore 
for Washington. 

On the 16th of May, my commission as major-general was 
signed, and I was permitted to come to Washington to receive it 
and qualify under it. But before I got it I felt it my duty to call 
upon General Scott. 



He received me curtly enough ; and, as I stood at " attention " 
after I made my salute, without asking me to be seated, he broke 
upon me with words of angry vituperation and accusation of all 
sorts of wrong-doing about going into Baltimore, and of the great 
risk I had run. He said that I had thwarted his intention of tak- 
ing it without shedding a drop of blood, and that I could be 
entrusted with nothing in the army again. 

I waited, standing before him, — I hope not like a whipped 
cur, — until my patience, of which I have not too large a stock, 
was exhausted. I felt perfectly independent, because I had at 
that time come to the conclusion myself, and what was more, with 
the advice of my wife, to quit the army and quietly go home and 
attend to my profession and my family. I turned upon the old 
general and " gave him as good as he sent, " in language not violent 
but distinct. 

I took his despatch which he had sent me at Baltimore from my 
pocket, and said : — 

"I have not answered this, because you did not know what you 
were writing about. You say my movement was a hazardous one. 
There was not the slightest hazard in it, and I knew it, for I had 
taken care to have actual information about what was going on in 
Baltimore, which, according to what you proposed, you did not 
have. Four days before, you let thirteen hundred men, including 
Sherman's regular battery and fifty regulars, sneak around Balti- 
more by Locust Point, instead of having them march through the 
city; and that was a concession, a yielding to the purposes of the 
secession mayor. 

" You say you did not know anything about the movement, and 
therefore could not have approved it. You told me that it was 
not necessary that you should know beforehand about what I did in 
my Department of Annapolis, — and I was acting within the limits 
of my department. 

" I had orders from you to go and get arms which had been sent 
from rebel Virginia to arm the rebels of Baltimore. How did you 
think I was to get them unless I went where they were? Your 
order itself told me the street and number in Baltimore where I 
should find munitions of war. I went and took them according 
to your orcfer. 


"You say it is a 'godsend ' that it was without conflict of arms. 
That was what I came here for, as I understood it, and I was very 
anxious to have a conflict of arms in Baltimore in order to punish 
any mob that might turn out against me, for the murder of my 
fellow-townsmen and fellow-soldiers; and the only thing that dis- 
turbed me about the expedition was that I was not likely to have a 
chance for a fight with the murderous 'plug uglies ' of that city. 
The whole thing was distressingly quiet. 

'You say you heard I 'sent a detachment to Frederick, bat that 
is impossible.' I learned that there was no force in Frederick to 
oppose a platoon, and I sent a company and captured the chief 
traitor, Ross Winans, who made pikes of the John Brown pattern 
for the mob to kill my soldiers with, and who made them after that 
pattern so that the rebels might say when they had the head of one 
of my townsmen on a pike, 'We have made you take your own 
medicine,' for John Brown's pikes were made in Massachusetts. 

"I agree that I had not reported to you, and, my apology is that 
there I had not a moment to spare, and I retired after forty hours' 
sleeplessness to get a little rest, only to be wakened to get this 
insulting despatch. What was the use of my reporting to you ? I 
had been before you several times before, and I doubt whether you 
would keep awake long enough to listen to it. As you have no 
further command over me, — good morning, General," and I left him. 

I did not call upon him again until he sent for me. I am not 
ashamed to confess I was so wrought up that upon my return to my 
quarters I threw myself on my lounge, and burst into a flood of 
tears. But while I was before Scott, I did not even wink. 

Directly after this, I saw Mr. Cameron, the Secretary of War, 
and informed him that if I was no longer needed I intended to 
report home. He very kindly begged me not to do so. He said I 
would regret it if I did ; that I had come into the service a leading 
Democrat, and others who were prominent Democrats had followed 
my example, and my action might tend to make the war a partisan 
one. I gave some little account of the scene that had taken place 
between Scott and myself. He said that being young I was 
capable of forgiving the outbursts of temper of a disappointed old 
man; and, further, that General Scott could not, because of his 
infirmities, long remain in command of the army. 


I saw Mr. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury, and I told him 
the same thing. With many expressions of personal friendship, he 
insisted that I should accept my promotion, and he said furtner that 
it was intended to put me in command of one of the most important 
departments of the United States, including Fortress Monroe and 
Norfolk, — the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. 

On the 18th I got the following order from General Scott: — 

Sir : — You will proceed to Fortress Monroe and assume the command 
of that post, when Colonel Dimmick will limit his command to the regular 
troops, composing a part of the garrison, hut will, by himself and his officers, 
give such aid in the instruction of the volunteers as you may direct. 

It is expected that you put yourself into free communication with the 
commander of the United States naval forces in Hampton Roads, and 
invite his cordial co-operation with you in all operations in whole or in 
part by water, and, no doubt, he will have received corresponding instruc- 
tion from the Navy Department. 

Boldness in execution is nearly always necessary, but in planning and 
fitting out expeditions or detachments, great circumspection is a virtue. 
In important cases, where time clearly permits, be sure to submit your 
plans and ask instructions from higher authority. Communicate with me 
often and fully on all matters important to the service. 

I remain, with great respect, 


Winfield Scott. 

Upon receipt of that I wrote the Secretary of War the following 
letter : — 

Baltimore, May 18, 1861. 

Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War: 

Sir : — I have just received an order from General Scott transferring the 
command of the Department of Annapolis to General Cadwallader, and 
ordering me to Fortress Monroe. What does this mean ? Is it a censure 
upon my action ? Is it because I have caused Winans to be arrested? 
Is it because of my proving successful in bringing Baltimore to subjection 
and quiet ? 

Cadwallader may release Winans, — probably will. You must guard 
against that. 

If my services are no longer desired by the Department, I am quite 
content to be relieved altogether, but I will not be disgraced. In ail I 


have done, I have acted solely according to what I believed to be the 
wishes of the President, General Scott, and yourself. 

I am not disposed to be troublesome to you, but I wish this matter 
might be laid before the President. To be relieved of the command of a 
department and sent to command a fort, without a word of comment, is 
something unusual at least, and I am so poor a soldier as not to under- 
stand it otherwise than in the light of a reproof. 

At least, I desire a personal interview with you and with the President 

before I accept further service. This will be handed to you by my friend 

and aide-de-camp, R. S. Fay, Jr., who knows its contents, and is able to 

represent me fully to you. 

Very truly yours, 

Benj. F. Butler, 

Brigadier- General Commanding. 

After I got to Fortress Monroe I waited from the 22d of May till 
the 4th day of June, when, the order not arriving making North 
Carolina a part of my department, I wrote General Scott as follows : — 

Headquarters Department of Virginia, 

Fortress Monroe, Va., June 4, 1861. 

Lieutenant- General Scott, Washington, D. C. : 

General: — I beg leave further to call the attention of the lieutenant- 
general to the fact that from some oversight, probably in the adjutant- 
general's office, the orders creating the Department of Virginia, North 
and South Carolina, which I understood were issued when I was in 
Washington, have not been published ; at least, I have not seen them. 
May I ask the attention of Lieuten ant-General Scott to this omission, 
which might prove embarrassing ? 

I have the honor to be most respectfully your obedient servant, • 

Benj. F. Butler, 

Major- General Commanding. 

Later on in the 18th I called upon the President. I did not call 
upon Seward, because he had given an order for the release of Ross 
Winans. The President did me the honor to offer me the com- 
mission with his own hand. I said to him : — 

"Mr. President, I doubt whether I ought to accept this com- 
mission; the withdrawal of myself and troops from Baltimore is a 


reproach upon me for what I have done. I have a wife and 
children largely dependent upon me for their future happiness and 
station in life. I came here in the hope of doing some good for 
the country ; I have tried my best and have been successful, and 
yet I am brought to see that the army is no place for me." 

The President said very kindly and courteously : — 

"" Certainly, General, the administration has done everything to 
remove every thought of reproach upon you ; and I wish very much 
that you would accept the commission." 

"Well, Mr. President," said I, "will you allow me to go to my 
room and consult with the mother of my children before I finally 
decide ? " 

"Certainly," replied he; "you cannot do a better thing." 

I took the commission and returned to my hotel. My wife, 
seeing that if I went home I should probably be unhappy and 
discontented, advised me to accept it. I returned to the President, 
and said to him : — 

" I will accept the commission, with many thanks to you for your 
personal kindness. But there is one thing I must say to you, as 
we don't know each other : That as a Democrat I opposed your 
election, and did all I could for your opponent; but I shall do 
no political act, and loyally support your administration as long as 
I hold your commission; and when I find any act that I cannot 
support I shall bring the commission back at once, and return it 
to you." 

" That is frank, that is fair, " he broke out in his way. " But I 
want to add one thing : When you see me doing anything that for 
the good of the country ought not to be done, come and tell me 
so, and why you think so, and then perhaps you won't have any 
chance to resign your commission." 

I said I certainly would avail myself of that privilege. Renew- 
ing my thanks I shook him by the hand, and from that day to the 
day of his death we were the warmest personal friends, and never 
differed but upon one matter of public policy, of which I shall 
speak hereafter. 

To state that the capture of Baltimore was very loudly 
applauded by the loyal men of the country is saying no more than 
what is true. The only adverse comment upon it by any loyal 


men which I have found is in the " History " which says : " It was 
loudly applauded by the impatient public opinion of the North 
which could ill comprehend the serious military risk involved." I 
beg pardon ; there was no more " military risk " in what was done 
than was incurred by the rebels in Florida when Brevet-Colonel 
Hay, armed with "several blank books," was given by Lincoln a 
major's commission as assistant adjutant-general to go down to 
Florida to make it a loyal State. After his mission at that time 
failed for "lack of material," Colonel Hay was twice promoted, 
as brevet lieutenant-colonel and colonel of the United States army, 
and for a service that was without " military risk " to himself or to 
the rebels. 

On the 20th of May, I received a message to call on General 
Scott for my orders 'as commander of the Department of Vir- 
ginia and North Carolina. They had been carefully written out 
by the assistant adjutant-general, and I will transcribe some 
paragraphs because the instructions may be of use hereafter as 
models : — • 

Besides the present garrison of Fortress Monroe, consisting of such 
companies of regular artillery, portions of two Massachusetts regiments 
of volunteers, and a regiment of Vermont volunteers, nine additional 
regiments of volunteers from New York may soon be expected there. 
Only a small portion, if any, of these can be conveniently quartered or 
encamped in the fort, the greater part, if not the whole area, of which will 
be necessary for exercises on the ground. The nine additional regiments 
must, therefore, be encamped in the best positions outside of and as near 
the fort as may be. For this purpose it is hoped that a pine forest north 
of the fort, near the bay, may be found to furnish the necessary ground 
and shade for some three thousand men, though somewhat distant from 
drinking and cooking water. This, as well as feed, it may be necessary 
to bring to the camp on wheels. 

When I got there on the 2 2d the only four-footed animal I 
found there besides the cats, was a small mule which dragged the 
sling cart, into which were regularly emptied certain necessary 
vessels in order that their contents might be carried to the 

My instructions were carefully curtailed so that I might make no 
more Baltimore expeditions : — 


The quartermaster's department has been instructed to furnish the 
necessary vehicles, casks, and draft animals. The war garrison of 
Fortress Monroe, against a formidable army provided with an adequate 
siege train, is about twenty-five hundred men. You will soon have there, 
inside and out, near three times that many. Assuming fifteen hundred as 
a garrison adequate to resist any probable attack in the next six months, 
or, at least, for many days or weeks, you will consider the remainder of 
the force under your command as disposable for aggressive purposes and 
employ it accordingly. 

In respect to more distant operations, you may expect specific 
instruction at a later date. In the meantime I will direct your attention 
to the following objects: 1st, Not to let the enemy erect batteries to 
annoy Fortress Monroe ; 2d, To capture any batteries the enemy may 
have within a half day's march of you, and which may be reached by 
land ; 3d, The same in respect to the enemy's batteries at or about 
Craney Island, though requiring water craft ; and 4th, To menace and 
recapture the navy-yard at Gosport, in order to complete its destruction, 
with its contents, except what it may be practical to bring away in 

These instructions effectually precluded anything like reaching 
the enemy, as Norfolk, thirteen miles away, could be approached 
only by water. The entrance to the port of Norfolk through 
Elizabeth River was well covered by forts and batteries. 

Meanwhile, before the New York regiments arrived, myself and 
staff proceeded to inspect the "pine forest." It was about two 
miles from the fort, on a narrow strip of land next to the beach, 
and between the sea and Miller's River, and could not possibly 
have been made a camp-ground for two thousand men. It was a 
part of the land ceded by Virginia to the United States. Upon 
inspection, I saw an objection to it as a camp-ground, which I 
chose to respect. The pine grove had been used as the burying- 
ground of the garrison. All of the soldiers and others who had 
died there for more than half a century were buried there,, and it 
was thickly dotted with their graves. 

In order to try the temper of my soldiers, I had the rumor cir- 
culated among them that the commanding-general thought of 
encamping»the volunteers in the graveyard of the fort. Respectful 
protests to any such action came at once as thick as the leaves of 


Vallombrosa. Colonel De Russey, chief engineer, also reported 
the spot to me as malarious and unhealthy. 

: When General Scott gave me the envelope containing my orders, 
he seemed to have entirely forgotten our late interview, and became 
quite companionable. He told me all about the fort, congratu- 
lated me upon my assignment to that position with my quarters in 
the fort, and gave me special congratulations, which while they 
were very kind in him were eminently characteristic. 

" General, " he said, " you are very fortunate to be assigned to 
duty at Fortress Monroe ; it is just the season for soft-shelled crabs, 
and hog fish have just come in, and they are the most delicious 
pan fish you ever ate," — as indeed I found them to be. 

From that time I never had the least objectionable communication 
from General Scott. 

We always met in the most friendly manner, and when he 
was retired from the army, — after McClellan had quarrelled with 
him, and abused him until he got the old general removed from 
his path to the chief command, and then wrote a very florid 
general order in his praise, — I felt it my duty to ask leave, as 
senior major-general, to attend, with other officers, as escort to 
his home. 

I met him but once afterwards, and that was when I was in 
command in New York, in 1864. I took possession of the Hoffman 
House, where he had rooms, for my headquarters. I waited upon 
him and assured him that he should not be disturbed. At that 
time he gave me the history of his life in two volumes, sub- 
scribed with his own hand, "From the Oldest to the Youngest 
General in the United States Army." 

I certainly had no cause to complain of the territorial extent of 
my jurisdiction. It was the geographical department of Virginia 
and North Carolina, and was subject to my military rule as far 
as I could possess myself of it, with headquarters at Fortress 

The fort was one of the strongest and best in the United States, 
and certainly the largest. It was a bastion fort about sixty-five 
acres in extent, with a water battery casemated on its sea front, and 
some guns mounted en barbette. Its ramps and ramparts were in 
good condition. Its only weak point as far as construction was 


concerned was in its magazines, which had been made safe only on 
the sea front. In the rear they had been left in a very unsatis- 
factory condition, the constructing engineer never supposing that 
the fort could be assaulted or bombarded from the land side. As 
it was, if it were attacked by the rebels from that side, with mor- 
tars throwing a curved fire into the fort and against the walls 
of the inner ramparts, the magazines were wholly without pro- 
tection. As the enemy had manifested some intention of erecting 
batteries on the land side, this condition of our ammunition was a 
serious anxiety; so our first work was to cover the magazines with 
bags filled with sand. That work was begun when I got there, 
but was never completed, because we very soon got beyond all 
fear of attack from the land side. 

There was another prime necessity which was still more press- 
ing. The fort required for a full war garrison twenty-five hundred 
men and for an ordinary garrison fifteen hundred. There was 
neither a well nor a spring in the fort, nor any on the point of land 
on which the fort was situated. The only water supply which the 
garrison had was the rain-water caught on the ramparts which drained 
into cisterns. With four hundred men in a garrison the year before, 
the water had failed entirely. 

The fort had been in this condition ever since the days of 
President Monroe, when work was first begun upon it. True, an 
artesian well had been sunk about four hundred feet, many years 
before I got there; but not a drop of water was obtained. The 
appropriation for the work became exhausted, and no appropriation 
on water was afterwards obtained. 

The fort was surrounded by a moat one hundred feet wide, which 
had been dug and walled, and was constructed to hold six feet of 
water at the tide level, the water being detained therein by proper 
gates. This provision rendered the fort practically unassailable 
by any troops by an escalade, and assailable only by bombardment, 
which could easily be done by the heavy guns of our day, but not 
of that day. The walls could be battered down and allow the 
flowing of sand into the moat. 

This moat I found had been partially filled in a curious manner. 
All the waters in the neighborhood of the fort, in Hampton Creek 
and Back River, were filled with the finest possible oysters, and 
























p— * 




























they were very cheap. The garrison of the fort, especially the 
officers, occupied quarters largely in the casemates, which were 
built into the walls of the fort under the ramparts, and had 
embrasures pierced in the outside walls for guns. These openings 
overlooked the moat, and also served the occupants of the case- 
mates as windows when the guns were withdrawn. Through these 
narrow windows the shells of the oysters were easily thrown into 
the moat and as the larger shells had small oysters attached to 
them, there was quite an oyster bank in the bottom of the moat and 
one which filled it up very considerably. 

As soon as possible the moat was cleared and the water was 
afterwards kept in it at its full height. 

But the question of drinking water was one of the most pressing, 
as warm weather was coming on. There was quite a spring on 
the opposite side of Mill Creek, the bridge of which was picketed, 
and I proposed to Colonel De Russey, who was the engineer officer 
in charge, a very old and therefore a very formal officer, that we 
should bring water from there into the fort. He informed me 
that pipe could only be put there by contract after advertisement 
and after authority had been obtained from the chief of engineers 
at Washington. I told him to take it in charge. Against his 
protest, however, I insisted upon having an artesian well sunk in 
the fort. The old well, even if it had reached water, was only a 
four-inch pipe, and unless it should happen, of which there was 
but one chance in a hundred, to be a very heavy flowing well, it 
would by no means furnish the post with a sufficient supply of 

Upon examining the topography of the country and its geological 
formation, I came to the conclusion that at one time the sea flowed 
up to the hills near Richmond in a straight line between fifty and 
sixty miles and that the substantial plateau between those cliffs and 
the fort was formed by concretion from the ocean, and that it was 
probable we should have to bore our well until we got down 
some six hundred feet because the trend of the whole coast was 
to rise about a fathom in a mile. The well was begun, and I had 
got down some four hundred feet at the time when I was relieved 
from command of the fort for some months or so. Then the work 
was stopped and never has proceeded any further, and I have never 


heard of any provision for water in the fort that would supply a 
garrison of more than four hundred men. 

The only provisions other than meat which the men had to live 
on were the hard buns or hard tack. All these provisions were 
conveyed into the fort by being rolled along in barrels, over a 
sandy road for about three quarters of a mile. And along this sandy 
road was the only way that our heavy cannon could be conveyed 
over the beach and up on the ramparts or anywhere else. I was 
informed that a twelve-inch bore cannon, the largest then ever 
made, was about to be sent to the fort to be tested experimentally. 
It weighed about twenty-six tons, and I assumed there must be 
some other method of locomotion. 

Knowing that some railroad ties, rails, and cars belonging to the 
enemy had been captured at Alexandria, I sent a requisition to the 
Secretary of War for a sufficient number of them to lay railroad 
tracks from the wharves through the gateway into the fort and 
around the inner part of its circumference, with branches running 
into these several magazines, and one upon the ramparts so as to 
take the heavy guns up there. 

I got a favorable answer to my requisition, and then I consulted 
Colonel De Russey upon the question of putting a branch up the 
sand beach where the loose sand above tide was some four or five 
inches deep, while the rolling of the surf left, as on other beaches, 
the sand below for a hard shore. When I explained the matter 
to the colonel, he said : — 

"What? Do you propose to put a railroad track over this soft 
sand ? " 


" And run cars over the track ? " 

"Yes; and not only that, Colonel De Russey, but I want to carry 
a twenty-six ton cannon up to a certain point. Now which way 
do you think we had best bring it ? " 

" Why, " said he, " General, you cannot carry anything on a 
track laid over this dry sand, and above all that very heavy gun. 
Why, it would sink your whole railroad track and ties in the 

"I am not an engineer, Colonel," I replied, "but I do know 
something about building a railroad. We build them on the sand 


where we want to, and I think it is rather the most solid of any 
foundation if you can but keep it out of the reach of water." 

"Well," said he, "I tell you, General, this is a matter I ought 
to know something about; it is impossible for you to build a road 
on this sand without its sinking in it." 

" Colonel, " I said, " I will show you a little experiment which 
I think will convince you." I looked around and saw a sentinel 
pacing his beat down from the sallyport, and wearing his little tin 
cup at his belt. I called him to me and said : " Lend me your tin 
cup." He did so. I stooped down and filled it with perfectly 
dry sand, smoothed it over the top, and turned to the colonel 
and said: — 

" If you can put anything else in that cup of dry sand by any 
pressure you please without getting some of the sand out of it I 
will agree that I am wrong. If you cannot you must agree that 
the sand won't allow the ties of the rails to sink into it only to a 
very small depth." 

"I see the force of your experiment," said he, "but I cannot 
believe that you can build a railroad upon this sand in the way you 
propose, so that it will be a useful one." 

"Well, Colonel," I said, "I must have a railroad here, and if 
you don't think that you can build it do you have any objection to 
my making a requisition for a railroad engineer to come here and 
do the thing, and relieve you from the responsibility ? " 

"Certainly not," said he. 

I then telegraphed and got Mr. Alexander Worrall, an engineer 
from the Pennsylvania railroad, and he came down. In a few days 
we had our railroad all down and in good running order. Then 
I put the gun on two trucks and hitched a number of men on the 
drag ropes and dragged it along lively. I rode up with a led horse 
to Colonel D'e Russey's office, and asked him to mount and ride 
down with me and see my railroad go into the sand, if it would. 
The order given, the men trotted off with my gun half a mile up 
the beach. 

I never afterwards had any opposition from Colonel De Russey 
to anything I proposed. 

Meanwhile regiments kept reporting to me from the North. I 
established a camp of instruction on the other side of Mill Creek 


on the "sacred soil of Virginia," because Virginia was now in 
open rebellion, and encamped my troops there, soon having seven 
or eight thousand men. The camp was on the borders of that 
stream, and just above it a number of wells were dug to supply the 
troops there with water. These wells drained the stream and cut 
off my water supply, which was quite seven hundred gallons a day. 
Then, to supply the fort, we were obliged to bring water from 
Baltimore which cost us as high as two cents per gallon. But 
that supply was a meagre one, so we erected a plant to distil sea- 
water taken from the moat, by converting it into steam and allow- 
ing the steam to condense. Thus we supplied the fort at the 
expense of a pound of coal for a pint of water. 

Among the regiments that came to me was the First Vermont, 
under the command of Colonel Phelps, formerly of the regular 
army. He was one of the best soldiers I ever saw, and the finest 
man in every relation of life that I ever met, except one. He 
was an abolitionist of the most profound, energetic, and forth- 
putting type. 

As soon as he was fairly settled in camp I ordered him to make 
a reconnoissance with his regiment across Hampton Creek into the 
village of Hampton. In it had been collected a few Virginia 
militia. As soon as Phelps got near the bridge crossing Hampton 
Creek, the rebel militia attempted to burn it. He made a charge 
upon them at double-quick, drove them off the bridge, and saved it. 
Crossing over, he occupied the town for a while, and then returned 
to camp about half way between Hampton and Newport News. 
This was organized as a camp of instruction and was named Camp 

At the same time that General Phelps entered Hampton, myself 
and staff made a recoifnoissance about seven miles into the countrv, 
turning off at the road running up to Back River, and then 
skirting around until we struck the shore and then coming back to 
the fort. By this means I got full knowledge of the country within 
actual striking distance of the fort, except of that portion beyond 
Hampton Creek, and then onward to the mouth of the James, a dis- 
tance of about eleven miles. 

I had.some knowledge of the point of junction of the north side 
of the James with Hampton Roads. I had given very studious 


attention to the early history of Virginia, after I knew I was to be 
sent there. I had also examined the maps in the Congressional 
Library and a map of the shore which I procured from the coast sur- 
vey. I learned that at the junction of the James with Hampton 
Roads there was a high promontory some sixty feet above the water, 
jutting boldly out into the bay in a range of several miles of very 
deep soundings up the James and on the sides of the Roads, grad- 
ually shoaling for miles, until it reached some eight to fifteen 
fathoms. Those soundings came within pistol shot of the shore. 

On this bluff, and extending back four or five miles upon it, 
until they reached a large and apparently primeval forest, were 
cultivated lands. 

This point was called Newport News from this incident: When 
the colonists at Jamestown, some twenty miles up the river, were 
in a state of starvation, — that is to say, in want of wheat, barley, 
beer, and roast beef, having almost everything else to eat that a 
man could desire of the game of the forest, and the fish of the 
sea, — they sent word to England of their starving condition, like 
our Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth, who did the same thing under 
the same circumstances. These people at Jamestown then waited 
with anxiety for the outfit of a vessel by Lord Newport containing 
the coveted material for beer, and at the farthest point of all down 
the river they established an outpost on this bluff to watch for the 
coming of Newport's ship from home. After days of watchfulness 
and anxiety the vessel came in sight. The watchers at the outpost 
were the first to know of its arrival, and this news they conveyed 
to Jamestown with the utmost speed, to the great delight of its 
people. And in honor of that occasion that point was named New- 
port's News. 

I saw that this point, if held by us and fortified, would forever 
keep safe the deep channel and anchorage whereon to concentrate 
a fleet and make an attack upon Norfolk, which lay at the left from 
the bluff facing the fort and some seven miles up the Elizabeth. I 
also saw that this post, as long as it was held, would control the 
ascent of James River certainly as far as Jamestown Island, or some 
twenty-five miles toward Richmond. Three days after my arrival at 
the fort I determined to occupy Newport News. I did not wish to 
waste time, and as it was distant more than the half day's march to 


which I was restricted by my orders, I wrote to General Scott that 
I proposed to make the reconnoissance in person that very day, 
with the intention, if I fonnd it practical, of seizing Newport 
News, and intrenching a force there by which this important point 
could always be held unless our government lost control of Hampton 
Roads. Therefore I embarked at midday with twenty-five men 
and three gentlemen of my staff. We steamed up past Sewall's 
Point, being saluted from the enemy's battery there by a cannon 
shot, the ball of which fell far short of its mark. I then answered 
the salute in derision with a rival shot from a rifle, which carried 
its bullet as far as the enemy's cannon. We landed at a little 
jetty at Newport News, and climbed the banks. Here there burst 
upon my sight one of the finest scenes that I ever beheld. At the 
point nearest the river was a farmer's house shaded by some very 
fine elms, and a field of some sixty or seventy acres, a perfect 
plain, covered with a beautiful growth of spring wheat waving in 
the light wind. 

Even this cursory examination proved to me that the point 
was all I could hope for. Sailing a mile or two up the James 
River, we turned about and reached home in time for an early 

That evening I organized an expedition of two thousand men, 
some artillery, and some heavy guns to command the river, with 
the necessary intrenching tools, and with three days' rations in the 
haversacks of the troops. 

We got off the next morning at seven o'clock, and at half -past 
eight we were ruthlessly trampling down that field of wheat in 
pitching our camp and marking out the line of intrenchments 
stretching across the point from water to water. 

One of the regiments was that of Colonel Phelps, and I detailed 
him in command. From that time Newport News was always the 
place where the fleet of the navy found fine air, fine anchorage, 
and plenty of water, and was never disturbed by a hostile shot until 
the arrival of the Merrimac, and the sinking of the frigates Con- 
gress and Constellation, in the spring following. 

That we were not a day too early was shown by the immediate 
occupation by the rebels of Pig Point, which lies precisely on the 
opposite side of the James River at its junction with the Nan- 



semond. Later on I mounted at Newport News the most efficient 
piece of artillery of that time, — and I have seen few more efficient 
since. It was a twenty-four pounder, carrying a fifty- three-pound 
six-inch shell, grooved mechanically so as to fit exactly the grooves 
of the bore; and later on a shot was thrown six miles across the 
James River. 

This being done I felt myself completely established at Fortress 

But there are many other matters which claim the fullest and 
closest attention ; and as the next important event led to the most 
serious results affecting the condition of the country, we may as 
well proceed to another chapter. 



N the day after my arrival at the fort, May 23, three 
negroes were reported coming in a boat from Sewall's 
Point, where the enemy was building a battery. 
Thinking that some information as to that work 
might be got from them, I had them before me. I 
learned that they were employed on the battery on the 
Point, which as yet was a trifling affair. There were only two guns 
there, though the work was laid out to be much larger and to be 
heavily mounted with guns captured from the navy-yard. The 
negroes said they belonged to Colonel Mallory, who commanded 
the Virginia troops around Hampton, and that he was now making 
preparation to take all his negroes to Florida soon, and that not 
wanting to go away from home they had escaped to the fort. I 
directed that they should be fed and set at work. 

On the next day I was notified by an officer in charge of the picket 
line next Hampton that an officer bearing a flag of truce desired to 
be admitted to the fort to see me. As I did not wish to allow officers 
of the enemy to come inside the fort just then and see us piling up 
sand bags to protect the weak points there, I directed the bearer of 
the flag to be informed that I would be at the picket line in the 
course of an hour. Accompanied by two gentlemen of my staff, 
Major Fay and Captain Haggerty, neither now living, I rode out to 
the picket line and met the flag of truce there. It was under charge 
of Major Carey, who introduced himself, at the same time pleasantly 
calling to mind that we last met at the Charleston convention. 
Major Carey opened the conversation by saying : " I have sought to 
see you for the purpose of ascertaining upon what principles you 
intend to conduct the war in this neighborhood." I expressed my 



willingness to answer, and the major said: "I ask first whether a 
passage through the blockading fleet will be allowed to families and 
citizens of Virginia who desire to go North to a place of safety." 

"The presence of the families of the belligerents," I replied, "is 
always the best hostage for their good behavior. One of the objects 
of the blockade is to prevent the admission of supplies and pro- 
visions into Virginia while she is hostile to the government. 
Reducing the number of consumers would necessarily tend to defeat 
the object in view. Passing a vessel through the blockade would 
involve so much trouble and delay, by way of examination to pre- 
vent frauds and abuse of the privilege, that I feel myself under the 
necessity of refusing." 

"Will the passage of families desiring to go North be permitted? " 
asked Major Carey. 

" With the exception of an interruption at Baltimore, which has 
now been disposed of, travel of peaceable citizens through to the 
North has not been hindered; and as to the internal line through 
Virginia, your friends have, for the present, entire control of it. 
The authorities at Washington will settle that question, and I must 
leave it to be disposed of by them." 

"I am informed," said Major Carey, "that three negroes belong- 
ing to Colonel Mallory have escaped within your lines. I am 
Colonel Mallory' s agent and have charge of his property. What 
do you mean to do with those negroes ? " 

"I intend to hold them," said I. 

" Do you mean, then, to set aside your constitutional obligation 
to return them ? " 

"I mean to take Virginia at her word, as declared in the ordi- 
nance of secession passed yesterday. I am under no constitutional 
obligations to a foreign country, which Virginia now claims to be." 

"But you say we cannot secede," he answered, "and so }^ou 
cannot consistently detain the negroes." 

" But you say you have seceded, so you cannot consistently claim 
them. I shall hold these negroes as contraband of war, since they 
are engaged in the construction of your battery and are claimed as 
your property. The question is simply whether they shall be used 
for or against the Government of the United States. Yet, though 
I greatly need the labor which has providentially come to my hands, 



if Colonel Mallory will come into the fort and take the oath of alle- 
giance to the United States, he shall have his negroes, and I will 
endeavor to hire them from him." 

"Colonel Mallory is absent," was Major Carey's answer. 
We courteously parted. On the way back, the correctness of my 
law was discussed by Major Haggerty, who was, for a young man, a 
very good lawyer. He said that he doubted somewhat upon the 
law, and asked me if I knew of that proposition having been laid 
down in any treatise on international law. 

" Not the precise proposition, " said I ; " but the precise principle 
is familiar law. Property of whatever nature, used or capable of 

being used for war- 
like purposes, and 
especially when 
being so used, may 
be captured and 
held either on sea 
or on shore as 
property contra- 
band of war. 
Whether there 
may be a property 
in human beings 
is a question upon 
which some of us 
might doubt, but 
the rebels cannot 
take the negative. At any rate, Haggerty, it is a good enough 
reason to stop the rebels' mouths with, especially as I should have 
held these negroes anyway." 

..-: f headquarters and in the fort nothing was discussed but the 
negro ± uestion, and especially this phase of it. The negroes came 
pouring in day by day, and the third day from that I reported the 
fact that more than $60,000 worth of them had come in; that I had 
found work for them to do, had classified them and made a list 
of them so that their identity might be fully assured, and had 
appointed a " commissioner of negro affairs " to take this business 
off my hands, for it was becoming onerous. 

" Contraband of War." 

Col. Mallory's Three Negroes before Gen. Butler at 
Fortress Monroe. 


I wrote the lieutenant-general that I awaited instructions but. 
should pursue this course until I had received them. On the 
30th I received word from the Secretary of War, to whom I had 
duplicated my letter to General Scott. His instructions gave me 
no directions to pursue any different course of action from that 
which I had reported to him, except that I was to keep an accurate 
account of the value of their work. 

But the local effect of the position taken was of the slightest 
account compared with its effect upon the country at large. The 
question of the disposal of the slaves was one that perplexed very 
many of the most ardent lovers of the country and loyal prosecutors 
of the war. It afforded a groundwork for discussion which yielded, 
many excuses for those who did not desire the war to be carried on. 
In a word, the slave question was a stumbling-block. Everybody 
saw that if the work of returning fugitive slaves to their masters 
in rebellion was imposed upon the Union troops, it would never 
be done ; the men would simply be disgusted and finally decline 
the duty. Our troops could not act as a marshal's posse in catching 
runaway negroes to return them to their masters who were fighting 
us at the same time. What ought to be done? Nobody made 
answer to that question. Fortuitously it was thrust upon me to 
decide what must be done then and there, and very fortunately a 
few moments' thought caused to flash through my mind the plausible 
answer at least to the question: What will you do? I do not 
claim for the phrase "contraband of war," used in this connection, 
the highest legal sanction, because it would not apply to property 
used or property for use in Avar, as would be a cargo of coal being 
carried to be burned on board an enemy's ship of war. To hold 
that contraband, as well might be done, by no means included all 
the coal in the country. It was a poor phrase enough ; Wendell 
Phillips said "a bad one." My staff officer, Major Winthrop, 
insisted it was an epigram which freed the slaves. The truth is, 
as a lawyer I was never very proud of it, but as an executive officer 
I was very much comforted with it as a means of doing my duty. 

The effect upon the public mind, however, was most wonderful. 
Everybody seemed to feel a relief on this great slavery question. 
Everybody thought a way had been found through it. Everybody 
praised its author by extolling its great use, but whether right or 


wrong it paved the way for the President's proclamation of freedom 
to the slaves within eighteen months afterwards. 

There Jias been, so far as I know, in the several histories, but one 
"very belittling account of the origin of this method of disposing of 
■captured slaves used in war, and that one is the emanation of malice 
•and ignorance in "Abraham Lincoln, A History," a book which was 
written by one man with two pens. Mr. John Hay says : — 

Out of this incident seems to have grown one of the most sudden and 
important revolutions in popular thought which took place during the 
whole war. General Butler has had the credit of first pronouncing the 
opinion formulating the doctrine, that under the course of international 
law the negro slaves, whose enforced labor in battery building was at the 
time of superior military value to the rebels, are manifestly contraband of 
war, and as such confiscable by military right and usage. There is no 
word or hint of this theory in his letter which reports the Mallory incident, 
nor any other official emanation of it by him until two months afterwards, 
when he stated casually that he had adopted such a theory. Nevertheless 
it is very possible that the idea may have come from him, though not at 
first in any authentic or official form. It first occurs incidentally in a 
newspaper letter from Fortress Monroe of the same date of the Mallory 
incident : " Again, the negro must now be reported as contraband, since 
every able-bodied negro not absolutely required on the plantation is im- 
pressed by the enemy into military service as a laborer on the various for- 

Whether the suggestion was struck out in General Butler's interview 
with the flag bearer, or at general mess table in a confidential review of 
the day's work ; or whether it originated with some imaginative member 
of his staff, or was contributed as a handy expedient by the busy brain of 
a newspaper reporter, will, perhaps, ever remain a historical riddle. 

This double-named historian has stepped out of his way to 
attempt to rob me of the authorship of this theory of disposing of 
such captured slaves. As he evidently did not understand the 
matter about which he was speaking, he has noted the fact that I 
did not ask, in my letter to General Scott the morning after I met 
Colonel Mallory's agent, as to this theory or use the word "contra- 
band, " and has produced it as evidence that the phrase was not used 
by me -in the interview as to captured slaves. If he had read 
my letters to General Scott he would have seen that I was asking 


from him instructions how to deal with the whole question of 
negro slavery during the war. 

As I have already said, I have never claimed and never believed that 
"contraband" alone would cover that. That was the popular belief, 
not mine. I was asking Scott for instructions as to what I should do 
with the slave men, women, and children, sick and well, who came to 
me. I did not need any instructions from Scott or Cameron, neither 
of whom were lawyers, as to the legal question of the law of nations con- 
cerning captured slaves when used by their masters in actual warfare. 

The question put and argued in those letters was : What was I 
to do with the slave population of the whole country who came to 
me voluntarily, men, women, and children. I had #60,000 worth 
of them. That question included the slaves of loyal men. In this 
matter I wanted the sanction of the government. 

I had adopted a theory on this question for myself in Maryland, 
and got rapped over the knuckles for it by Governor Andrew. I 
had learned what manner of man Scott was, and I was desirous to 
take instructions from him for my action but not for my law. 

If Mr. Hay had stopped at the point where he was led to doubt 
my authorship of "contraband" because I had not mentioned it to 
Scott, and was so misled, no more would need to be said. The sin of 
ignorance "God winks at," and I should follow that example. 

But having been a newspaper man himself, and this being a great 
question of international law, which has never yet been settled, and 
which, as he argues, contributed largely to the freeing of the slaves, 
he goes on to suggest that probably it was written by a newspaper 
reporter, because he finds the whole theory stated in a newspaper 
letter written at night after my return to the fort. 

The whole matter of the interview with the flag of truce officer 
was the common talk of all, and the reporter was writing the cur- 
rent news. Yet Mr. Hay suggests it might have come from an 
"imaginative staff officer." Why " a staff officer " ? Mr. Hay, this 
was a matter of the laws of war. As the general was supposed to 
have some knowledge upon that subject, why didn't you state in 
your " History " that you thought it probable the general arrived at 
such a conclusion of law rather than it should have originated with 
an "imaginative staff officer" or be contributed as a "handy 
expedient by the busy brain of a newspaper reporter " ? 


If Mr. Hay had desired to write " History " and not simply to 
make a book suggesting "historical riddles,'' he could easily have 
ascertained regarding the matter by writing a simple note either to 
Major Carey, who is an honored citizen of Richmond, Va., or to his 
associates bearing that flag, or to myself. If he had put the ques- 
tion to me I should have answered: "A poor thing, sir, but mine 
own." If he had inquired of Major Carey, that gentleman would 
have answered that " contraband '" was the ground upon which I 
refused to release Mallory's slaves and that we then discussed the 
whole question together. 

Mr. Hay, read this : — 

Richmond, Va., March 9, 1891. 

Gen. Benj. F. Butler, Washington, D. C. : 

Dear Sir : — I have received, through a friend, your request to furnish 
a detailed statement of the facts in regard to the introduction of the 
term "contraband," as applied to the slave population of the United 
States, about the beginning of our Civil War ; and as my recollection is 
very distinct, I give it for whatever it may be worth to you as to the 
truth of history. 

The term was employed by you at a conference held between us, on 
the Hampton side of Mill Creek Bridge, on the evening of May 24, 1861, 
the day after Virginia had voted on the ordinance of secession, but before 
the ratification (though anticipated) was definitely known. I was then in 
command, at Hampton, of four volunteer companies of about two hundred 
men (one of them artillery without guns), very poorly equipped, and 
almost entirely without ammunition, Avho had never been in camp, and who 
dispersed to their homes in the town and neighborhood every night ; and 
you were in command of the United States troops (said to be about ten 
thousand) at Fortress Monroe. As there were no Virginia troops at that 
time between Hampton and Richmond (a distance of ninety-six miles), 
save three companies of infantry at Yorktown, and two companies, per- 
haps, organizing at Williamsburg, and as it was thus evidently important 
for us to " preserve the peace," I had instructions from General Lee, then 
commander-in-chief of the Virginia troops, to avoid giving any provocation 
for the commencement of hostilities ; to retire before your advance, if 
attempted ; and to obstruct, as far as possible, your progress by burning 
bridges and felling trees across the public roads, until reinforcements could 
be sent to Yorktown. At night, after the election (May 23), Col. C. K. 
Malloiy, hi the One Hundred and Fifteenth Virginia Militia (with other 
citizens), called at my headquarters, and asked me to take some steps for 


the recovery of one of his slaves, who had escaped to Old Point, and had 
been held there by you, and put to work in the service of the government. 
I promised to do what I could, and accordingly sent to you, next morning, 
a communication under flag of truce (the first I believe of the war), deem- 
ing that course advisable in view of the critical condition of affairs, and 
asked for a conference with you, which was promptly granted, 3.30 the 
same day and Mill Creek Bridge being named as the time and place of 

We met at the time and place appointed, and for several hours riding 
up Mill Creek to its head, and back again, via Buck Roe, by a slight 
detour to Fort Field Gate, we discussed many questions of great interest 
(to me at least), among them the return of fugitive slaves who had 
gone within your lines. I maintained the right of the master to reclaim 
them, as Virginia (so far as we knew) was a State of the Union ; but 
you positively refused to surrender them (or any other property which 
might come into your possession), claiming that they were "contraband 
of war " ; and that all such property would be turned over to your 
quartermaster, who would report to the government, to be dealt with 
as might be subsequently determined. Failing in the accomplishment 
of my mission, we parted when it was quite dark, and returned to our 
respective posts. 

I have frequently mentioned these facts, with many other incidents of 
the conference {some serious and some amusing) to members of my family 
and friends / and as it was the first time I had ever heard the term " con- 
traband" so used, I have always given you whatever credit might attach to 
its origin. 

Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

M. B. Carey. 

If Mr. Hay had looked in the New York Tribune, of which he 
was once editor, he would have found a letter written that day at 
Fortress Monroe, after I had my interview with Major Carey, and 
in that letter he would have read the following : — 

Three slaves, the property of Colonel Mallory, commander of the rebel 
forces near Hampton, were brought in by our picket guard yesterday. 
They reported that they were about to be sent South, and hence sought 
protection. Major Carey came in with a flag of truce and claimed their 
rendition under the fugitive slave law, and was informed by General 
Butler that under the peculiar circumstances he considered the fugitives 
contraband of war, and had set them to work inside the fortress. 


Mr. Hay, you do not speak of anybody who ever said anything to 
the contrary of the " contraband " thought being mine : why not, if 
you ever heard anything to the contrary ? Upon the whole do you not 
think this exhibition of facts which I have made as to the manner 
of your writing " History " shows that you wrote very carelessly 
and negligently your " History " of Abraham Lincoln? If it is all 
written like this specimen, — for I have not read it all because I 
know more about Abraham Lincoln than you ever did, — God help 
poor Lincoln's memory thus to go down to posterity. You can't 
weigh a load of hay with fish scales, you know. 

Speaking of phrases, they will stick to the man they belong to. This 
one will stick to me in spite of all efforts to the contrary, and I know of 
another phrase which will stick to you in spite of all yours, because 
no Christian gentleman will ever claim it, and no man of good literary 
taste will ever permit it to be ascribed to him. The phrase I refer 
to is the only thing that ever made your poem " Little Breeches " 
famous, while making, perhaps, its author infamous : — 

"Isa derned sight better business 

Than loafing around The Throne." 

I made requisition on General Scott for horses, for artillery, for 
wagons, and for tents and camp equipage, as my command was 
largely unprovided for in that regard. At last I sent my brother 
to Washington to get authority to buy some. He got it, and went 
to Baltimore and bought one hundred and twenty-five very good 
horses. Meanwhile I had sent to my home for nine horses of my 
own, which were coming as soon as they could be got there. 
Orders were left that the horses obtained by my brother should be 
sent on after him to Fortress Monroe ; but he was not an old cam- 
paigner, and did not know that there were as many horse thieves 
in the army as there were out of it. The next day, his horses not 
coming, he went to see what the matter was, and found that one 
hundred and odd had been taken to Washington, so it was very 
lucky that mine from home had not got there. This loss of horses 
for my artillery was of very serious consequence to me and a serious 
loss to the country. If I could have had a few horses so that I could 
have mounted my artillery and picked out a few of my best soldiers 





















for cavalry under an experienced cavalry officer, and thus have 
had the ground reconnoitred and some guns served to meet the 
enemy's guns at the time of the attack on Big Bethel, that encounter 
would have resulted in an entirely different way and in perfectly 
certain victory for the United States troops. 

There was a point nine miles from the fort and on the road lead- 
ing from Hampton to Yorktown, which I learned the rebels 
intended to entrench and hold, because they expected a move 
towards Richmond to be made very soon. The insane cry of " On 
to Richmond " had been continually sounded by Mr. Greeley and 
his coadjutors. After carefully reconnoitring the position, I con- 
cluded upon an attack. 

A creek crossed the road close by the church known as the 
Bethel. The bridge over this creek was attempted to be commanded 
by a slight fortification some half a cannon-shot distance beyond. 
Col. D. H. Hill, of North Carolina, held it with five hundred men. 
Our negro scouts reported them two thousand in number, and they 
really thought there were as many as that, for a negro scout had to 
be a veteran in the Avar before he learned that two hundred men 
were not a thousand, and that five hundred were not two thousand. 
So upon the point of numbers I was satisfied ; and I was further 
convinced that there were no more than one thousand in Yorktown, 
that might possibly come to Bethel, as they afterwards did. 

After the most careful and thorough preparation and a personal 
reconnoissance of the lay of the country by Major Winthrop, I 
came to the conclusion to attempt to take this post, and I drew up 
with his aid the following order for the detail of the movement : — 

A regiment or battalion to march from Newport News, and a regiment to 
march from Camp Hamilton, — Duryea's. Each will be supported by suffi- 
cient reserves under arms in camp, and with advanced guards out on the 
road of march. 

Duryea to push out two picket posts at 10 p. m. ; one two and a half 
miles beyond Hampton, on the county road, but not so far as to alarm the 
enemy. This is important. Second picket half as far as the first. Both 
pickets to keep as much out of sight as possible. No one whatever to be 
allowed to pass out through their lines. Persons to be allowed to pass 
inward toward Hampton, unless it appears that they intend to go round- 
about and dodge through to the front. 


At 12, midnight, Colonel Duryea will march his regiment, with fifteen 
round cartridges, on the county road towards Little Bethel. Scows will 
be provided to ferry them across Hampton Creek. March to be rapid, 
but not hurried. 

A howitzer with canister and shrapnel to go. 

A wagon with planks and material to repair the Newmarket bridge. 

Duryea to have the two hundred rifles. He will pick the men to whom 
to entrust them. 

Rocket to be thrown up from Newport News. Notify Commodore 
Pendergrast of this to prevent general alarm. 

Newport News movement to be made somewhat later, as the distance 
is less. 

If we find the enemy and surprise them, men will fire one volley, if 
desirable, not reload, and go ahead with the bayonet. 

As the attack is to be by night, or dusk of morning, and in two detach- 
ments, our people should have some token, say a white rag (or dirty white 
rag) on the left arm. 

Perhaps the detachments who are to do the job should be smaller than 
a regiment, three hundred or five hundred, as the right and left of the 
attack would be more easily handled. 

If we bag the Little Bethel men, push on to Big Bethel, and similarly 
bag them. Burn both the Bethels, or blow up if brick. 

To protect our rear in case we take the field-pieces, and the enemy 
should march his main body (if he has any) to recover them, it would be 
well to have a squad of competent artillerists, regular or other, to handle 
the captured guns on the retirement of our main body. Also spikes to 
spike them if retaken. 

George Scott to have a shooting iron. 

Perhaps Duryea' s men would be awkward with a new arm in a night or 
early dawn attack, where there will be little marksman duty to perform. 
Most of the work will be done with the bayonet, and they are already handy 
with the old ones. 

There was a small negro church called Little Bethel which stood 
in advance of Great Bethel a short distance. That was in no way 
fortified, and sheltered a few men. 

I could not go with the command myself and it was not proper 
that I should ; but I selected as commander my officer next in rank, 
General Pierce, of Massachusetts. I very much wished to devolve 
the command on Colonel Phelps as certainly the more competent 
officer, but there were unfortunately one or two colonels outranking 


him that were no more qualified than General Pierce, and I did 
not like to do these officers an apparent injustice. Besides I did not 
deem the enterprise at all difficult. 

Newport News was nearer Bethel, and my proposition was that 
the regiment there should start later than the two regiments from 
Camp Hamilton, and that at a well-known junction of the road they 
should meet, advance as fast as possible, capture Little Bethel, which 
could easily be done, and then all make an assault at daylight upon 
the entrenchments at Great Bethel. To be sure of having the march 
properly timed, I ordered the signal to be given at Newport News. 
There were four very small howitzers which were to be drawn by the 
men, for want of horses to take up larger guns. 

With six of our men to one of the enemy I could not conceive 
how there could be any possibility of not marching at once over 
the works ; and if the troops had marched steadily forward the rebels 
would not have stayed a minute. 

Everything was utterly mismanaged. When the troops got out 
four or five miles to the junction where the regiments were to meet, 
it being early dawn and the officers being very much scared, Colonel 
Bendix mistook the colonels and staff of the other regiment for a 
body of cavalry, and fired upon them. The fire was returned ; and by 
that performance we not only lost more men than were lost in the 
battle, but also ended all chance for a surprise. 

The two regiments marched forward, the main force remaining 
behind. Duryea took Little Bethel, which had been abandoned. 
With two hundred rifle-men supporting Greble and his cannon, Duryea 
went forward with his Zouaves to a piece of timber, and opened fire in 
answer to the enemy's artillery. Greble advanced his guns within 
three hundred yards of the enemy's battery. He was pretty soon 
left by the Zouaves, who took shelter in the woods. That was no 
harm, as nobody came out from the entrenchments to disturb him. 
He silenced one of the enemy's guns, and substantially all of them, 
when by the last discharge of a gun by the enemy he was instantly 

From that time there did not seem to be a head more than 
a cabbage head to undertake to do anything, except it might be 
Winthrop. Greble held his position an hour and a half, while the 
main body of the troops stood about a half mile from his position 


waiting for the officers to form a plan of battle. They carefully 
disobeyed orders, which were, as has been seen, to go right ahead 
with fixed bayonets and fire but one shot, and they did not do even 
that. If they had only marched steadily forward, as I have said 
before, the enemy would have fled. 

The plan that they at last agreed upon was well enough, only 
an exceedingly contrary one. They decided not to attack the rebel 
position in front, but to endeavor to go around it. Therefore it was 
agreed that Duryea should hold his place where it was, in apparent 
support of Greble's battery; that Colonel Townsend should march 
obliquely to the left beyond the woods so that he might strike the 
Yorktown road and attack the enemy in his rear and cut him off 
from Yorktown; that at the same time Bendix should march by his 
flank obliquely to the right and then go across a little stream easily 
fordable, and form a junction with Townsend in the rear of the 
enemy's entrenchments ; and that would result either in the enemy 
taking flight or being captured. 

But as Townsend moved up, a portion of his command got a 
little ahead of him on the other side of a stone wall. When he 
saw them, he took them for a body of the enemy trying to flank 
him, and at once concluded to retire. He did retire, leaving 
Winthrop near the fort in expectation of instant victory. Win- 
throp did not know that the order had been given for the retirement 
of Townsend' s troops. Winthrop sprang upon a log to take a view 
of the situation, and see how matters stood. He was supported by 
one private. All the rest of his support had retired under orders. 
As he stood up in full view, a rifle shot from the enemy killed him 
instantly. Meantime Duryea and Bendix were trying to pass to 
the left of the enemy's entrenchments to be ready to spring upon 
them when Townsend had got to his position ; and that was all that 
was done. 

A council was called and all the colonels but Duryea voted to 
retire, and Pierce gave the order. The ground it was put upon 
was that the troops with long marching were hungry. They had 
actually marched eleven miles ; and if Pierce had given the order 
for them to sit down and take lunch, the enemy Avould have run 
away (&% is now known they did do), because they would have 
supposed we had come to stay. A few volunteers headed by Lieu- 


tenant-Colonel Warren remained on the field until they could pick 
up all the wounded. They brought off Greble's gun, and then had 
to drag the wounded in wagons nine miles. 

Upon the return to the fort the stories that were brought back 
were sufficient evidence of the great alarm. Pierce said that there 
were between four and five thousand of the enemy. 

These statements will perhaps be better summed up in the way 
they finally got into the Northern press, through a communication 
addressed to me : — 

Men cannot be required to stand in front of a rampart thirty feet high, 
before the muzzles of mounted guns, loaded with grape and canister and 
musket balls, doing nothing. When they are commanded to march through 
fire and reach the ditch, they must be provided with the means to cross it, 
or jump into it, and sticking their bayonets into the slope of the scarp, form 
with them ladders by means of which the more active can mount the parapet. 
But before men are sent into a position — recollecting that every ditch will 
be swept by a flank fire — they must not only be instructed in their duties, 
but supported by a steady fire upon the enemy. 

As a specimen of the stories reported back, I have a vivid memory 
of an extraordinary one told me by one of the bravest young men 
I ever knew. He was then not even a private in the army, but 
he begged of me the privilege of going with the expedition and 
carrying a musket. His father was a warm friend of mine and I 
took his son in my charge when I first started, using him as a sort 
of private secretary to take care of my papers and copy some of 
them. I afterwards appointed him a lieutenant when I raised my 
troops for the New Orleans expedition. He went down there with me, 
became a very efficient officer, distinguished for bravery and dash, and 
in two years was made a brigadier-general for his defence of one of the 
forts on the Mississippi River against a very superior force of the enemy. 
He was a very level-headed gentleman in every particular. I think I 
left him in the Department of the Gulf as a lieutenant-colonel. There 
his promotions were got under other commanders. Yet in the evening 
of that day at Great Bethel, after I had spent several hours hearing 
all sorts of stories, he came into my office and said : — 

" General, do you want me to tell you anything of the fight up at 
Great Bethel ? " 


" Yes, I do, " said I ; ' 4 1 have heard nothing but the account of 
men who seem to have been frightened almost to death. I don't 
believe you were." 

" But I was, General, yet I think I can tell you what I saw. I 
cannot tell you anything about the two regiments shooting at each 
other going up, because I was not there at that time ; I was with 
Duryea's regiment. Well, we took Little Bethel, and that was not 
anything to take ; the rebels had run away. Then we marched up 
into the woods to support Greble's battery, and we remained there a 
while. As we came up to the woods the enemy 'began to fire at us 
and the balls at first went over our heads into the trees. Well, we 
could have stood that, but, General, they fired 'rotten balls.' " 

" You mean shells, I suppose ? " 

"Well, yes; that is what they told me afterwards they were; but 
they would strike a tree and burst, and the pieces would drop around 
among us. I guess if they had been regular balls the men would 
have stood it, but they broke and scattered to the woods. It 
seemed as if they might as well scatter as anyway, because there 
was nobody came out of the fort at us." 

"Well," said I, "I am glad to see a man who got near enough to 
see what the fort was." 

" It was a very large fort, I should think some thirteen feet high, 
and they had mounted on it some fifteen or twenty guns. There 
was a ditch in the front, and if we had got up to it it would have 
been impossible for us to have climbed up so as to get in it." 

"Do you know anybody that got nearer than you? " 

"No; there were some as near. But Winthrop went clear up 
farther than any of us, and then he went back to the main body of 
the troops." 

That was the least exaggerated report that I got of the fort. 
Some reported as many as thirty guns. As a matter of fact, there 
were three six-pounder field-pieces, and the fortification was so low 
that they had to dig an excavation to let the wheels down so as to 
bring the top of the parapet above the top of the gun carriages so 
as to protect them from our fire. Afterwards I rode my horse at full 
trot over those thirteen feet high parapets. 

I sent' quite early in the evening to have George Scott, who was 
to have a " shooting iron " and accompany Winthrop, and found him 




mourning bitterly for his loss. I asked him if he was afraid to go 
up that night to Big Bethel and see who were there and how many 
there were. He said he would go up, and I gave him a light basket 
containing some restoratives and bandages if he should find any 
wounded. He started with alacrity. I told him to get back as; 
soon as he could, and to have me called at whatever hour of night. 
Returning before daybreak he reported to me, and from the nature of 
the report, I had no doubt of its truth. He had gone on to the field, 
and had looked around in the woods to see if he could find any 
wounded or dead men, but found none. He crept up carefully near 
the works and listened to hear any noise of a sentinel or anybody. 
Not hearing anything, he cautiously advanced until he got up to the 
breastwork, and then, after carefully looking it over, he went into 
the work, and found not one soul there. The enemy had retired, 
and nobody to this day, as far as I can ascertain, knows whether the 
rebels went before our men did or afterwards. 

It may be worthy of note that the same thing happened at the 
battle near Manassas Junction, known as the battle of Bull Run; after 
the fight both armies ran away, so that there was no armed force on 
the battle field, as I have been informed, and correctly, I believe. 

It will be seen that the affair at Bethel was simply a skirmish, 
and not even a respectable one at that, either in the vigor of the 
attack or in the loss of men. We lost quite as many men by the 
fire of Colonel Bendix upon Colonel Townsend's regiment of foot, 
mistaking it for cavalry, as we lost altogether at Bethel. 

When the plan of the expedition became fully known and the con- 
dition of the place which was to be attacked was ascertained, 
nobody criticised the movement, as there were two regiments* to 
go into the fight with a brigadier-general in command. I had 
but one brigadier-general, General Pierce, and I had to give him 
the command. Yet while no blame could seem to attach to me, 
a senseless cry went out against me, and it almost cost me my 
confirmation in the Senate. Of course every Democrat voted against 
me, and so did some of the Republicans, for various reasons. I 
suppose I should have failed of confirmation if Colonel Baker, 
then senator from Oregon, who had been detailed to do duty with 
me at Fortress Monroe, Lad not been in his seat and explained the 

* Two regiments were ordered, but three took part In the fight : Bendix, Townsend , and Duryea. 


senselessness of the clamor. But one senator from my own State 
voted for me, the other, the senior senator, voting against me because 
of my difference with Governor Andrew on the slave question. 

In the meantime neither horses nor artillery came. I did, how- 
ever, get a very valuable reinforcement of a California regiment and 
a half, at the head of which was Colonel Baker, who had had some 
experience in Mexico as an officer. We agreed to attempt, as soon 
as our horses and artillery should come, an expedition that would 
reflect credit on both of us, and we determined that neither should 
blame the other if it failed, because both would go together. 

I asked, on the 23d of May, for a few artillery and cavalry horses 
with their equipments. These were not received from Washington 
until July 21, and then only after every possible exertion on my part> 
even to the extent, as we have seen, of causing them to be bought by 
my own agent and having them brought on to Washington. 

This was not negligence, as I at first supposed, but studied unjust 
treatment. I should not venture to say this did I not have it in a 
letter from a man in Washington who knew everything that was 
done about army headquarters, — a bold soldier, an officer, a gen- 
eral. As he is yet alive I do not give his name ; but the letter has 
been published now more than a quarter of a century and no man 
has ever dared to question it. It is as follows : — 

June 8th I received your letter and despatch, and, contrary to your 
orders, I read both to the President, under the seal of confidence, however. 

I have told him that would never let you have any troops to make 

any great blow, and I read the despatch to show that I understood my 

man. He intended to treat you as he did , and as he has always 

treated those whom he knew would be effective if he gave them the means, 
retaining everything in his own power and under his own immediate con- 
trol, so as to monopolize all the reputation to be made. 

I have been a little afraid lest you might attempt more than your means 
justified, under the impression that you would otherwise disappoint the 
country. But I am pleased to see that you have not made this mistake. 
You must work on patiently till you feel yourself able to do the work you 
attempt, and not play into your enemies' hands, or those of the miserable 
do-nothings here, by attempting more than in your cool judgment the 
force you have can effect. You will gradually get the means, and then 
you may make an effective blow. Unfortunately, indeed, the difficulties 
increase as your force increases, if not more rapidly. We have forty 


thousand men, I believe, and provisions and transportation enough to take 
them to Richmond any day, and yet our lines do not extend five miles 
into Virginia, where there are not, in my opinion, men enough to oppose 

the march of half the n amber to Richmond. Old is at with 

twenty thousand men, and is moving as cautiously towards the Potomac 
as if the banks were commanded by an army of Bonaparte's best legions, 
instead of a mob, composed for the most part of men who will only wait 
for an opportunity to desert a flag they detest. This war will last forever 

if something does not happen to unseat old . in the West, 

with sixty thousand men under canvas, has not made a movement except 
let a few regiments march up the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, at the urgent 
solicitations of the people. So we go. Congress will probably catch us 
without our having performed any service worthy of the great force we 
have under pay. 

I grumble this way all the time, and to everybody, in the hope that I 
may contribute to push on the column. I am very much in hopes we shall 
be pushed into action by the indignation of the j^eople, if not by our own 
sense of what is due to the cause we have taken in hand. 

On the day that I received my horses and artillery and was pre- 
paring to start on our expedition, the battle of Bull Run was 
fought. I had ascertained before, from a private source, that I 
was not to have any aid before the battle of Bull Run, and that some 
of my troops were to be withdrawn. Immediately after that battle, 
which was predestined to disaster on our side, as I shall take leave 
to make plain hereafter, an order came on the 24th of July that 
all my effective forces should be removed to Baltimore together with 
Colonel Baker. They had become so frightened at Washington 
that they supposed the secessionists of Baltimore would rise, while 
there was no more danger of it than there was of an outbreak at 
Boston. In fact, there never was at any time during the war so 
much of an outbreak at Baltimore as there was at Boston when the 
draft riots occurred; and that Boston outbreak was put down by a 
young officer of mine, Lieutenant Carruth, with two pieces of 
artillery, served by men who had not yet been mustered into service. 

Of course this move of Scott ended all hope or expectation that 
anything further would be allowed to be done at Fortress Monroe. 
To make it sure that nothing more would be done, as Scott thought, 
he soon afterward sent a man to relieve me from command that 
could not do anything but simply occupy the position of commander 


of that department, and leave me to do the work, and restrain me 
from doing anything. 

General Wool's condition and Scott's knowledge of it will appear 
in the following correspondence : — 

Fortress Monroe, August 8, 1861. 

Col. Thomas A. Scott, Assistant Secretary of War : 

Dear Sir : — May I ask if you have overlooked the order signed hy the 
President for th^ raising of five thousand troops ? I pray you get this 
thing through for me, and I will be obliged forever and ever. I am 
losing good daylight, now that the three months' men are being disbanded. 
Can you not add this to the many kind courtesies of our friendship ? 

Truly yours, 

Benj. P. Butler. 

Headquarters of the Army, August 8, 1861. 
Major-General Wool, U. S. A., Troy, N. Y. : 

It is desirable that you repair to and assume command of the department 
of which Fortress Monroe is the place of headquarters. It is intended 
to reinforce that department (recently reduced) for aggressive purposes. 
Is your health equal to that command ? If yes, you will be ordered 

thither at once. Reply immediately. 

Winfield Scott. 

Headquarters Department of Virginia, 

Fortress Monroe, August 11, 1861. 

Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott : 

General : — I have the honor to report the safe return of an expedition 
under Lieutenant Crosby, of my command, upon the Eastern shore, for 
the purpose of interrupting the commerce between the rebels of Maryland 
and their brothers in Virginia. I also enclose herewith a copy of a report 
of a reconnoissance of the position of the enemy, made from a balloon. 
The enemy have retired a large part of their forces to Bethel, without 
making any attack upon Newport News. I have nothing further of in- 
terest to report except the reception this morning of an order that Brevet 
Major-General Wool is directed by the President to take command of the 
Department of Virginia. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Benj. F. Butler, 
Major- General Commanding. 


There had been great complaint in the New York Times that 
General Wool had not been given some place where his great 
experience would have a fair chance to benefit the country. It was 
argued by the Times in an editorial after the battle of Bull Run, 
that there should be a dictator who should take Lincoln's place 
and carry on the war, and that George Law should be that dictator. 
As this was not done at once, there was a cry that the great State of 
New York should have another major-general in the army. It was 
urged that there was in New York a major-general of the regular 
army — General Wool — who had lived for a great many years in a 
state of retiracy, and that he should have a command in the army 
suited to his rank, and that it was the duty of the President to have 
him assigned to such command. 

Now, the President well knew that General Wool could not do 
anything, simply because he was too old and infirm, a fact that he 
knew as well as anybody. It was evident, too, from Scott's letter 
that he also knew it, because he wrote Wool telling him that if his 
health would allow it, it would be desirable that he should be sent 
to Fortress Monroe. Thereupon Wool came there; but there was no 
order to relieve me, and I was not at liberty to leave the department. 

Wool got there on the 17th of August, and I turned over the 
command to him. There was nothing I could complain of. A very 
much older soldier, and a very efficient military officer when he 
was younger, was ordered to command in my department; and 
although he had been assigned only to the Department of South 
Eastern Virginia, yet I supposed that meant the whole Department 
of Virginia and North Carolina. At any rate, I did not choose to 
struggle on that point, and so I turned over the command to him, 
using these words: — "No personal feelings of regret intrudes itself 
at the change in the command of the department, by which our 
cause acquires the services in the field of the veteran general com- 
manding, in whose abilities, experience, and devotion to the flag, the 
whole country places the most explicit reliance, and under whose 
guidance and command, all of us, and none more than your late 
commander, are proud to serve." 

Thereupon General Wool, who was lieutenant-general by brevet, 
immediately put me in command of all the troops in the department 
except the regulars. 


Headquarters Department of Virginia, 

Fortress Monroe, Va., August 21, 1861. 
Special Order No. 9. 

Major-General B. F. Butler is hereby placed in command of the volun- 
teer forces in this department, exclusive of those at Fortress Monroe. 

His present command at Camps Butler and Hamilton will include the 
First, Second, Seventh, Ninth, and Twentieth New York Regiments, the 
Battalion of Massachusetts Volunteers, and the Union Coast Guard, and 
the Mounted Rifles. 

By command of Major-General Wool : 

C. C. Churchill, 

First Lieutenant, Third Artillery \ 
Actg. Asst. Adjt.- Gen. 

To show what General Wool thought as to my not having done 
any more, I take leave to transcribe his first letter to General Scott, 
August 24, three days after he was put in command : — 

Headquarters Department op Virginia, 

Fortress Monroe, Va., August 24. 

Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, General-in-Chief : 

General: — Allow me to ask your attention to the condition of the 
troops in this garrison. Of seven companies of artillery we have but 
six officers. It is reported to me that seven of the artillery officers 
have been appointed in the quartermaster's and commissary departments. 
I have been compelled to take Captain Churchill for assistant adjutant- 
general. This leaves but five artillery officers. Notwithstanding, how- 
ever, Captain Churchill, although his duties are exceedingly onerous, 
attends to the duties of his company. From this circumstance, not 
finding a volunteer officer fit for the duty, I have been compelled to 
take Captain Reynolds, of the Topographical Engineers, for aide-de-camp, 
which I request may be approved. I require two more, as the assistance 
of Captain Reynolds is indispensable in the office of the acting assistant 
ad j utant-general. 

The Tenth New York Regiment is attached to the garrison of Fortress 
Monroe, but is wholly unfit for the position. As soon as I can make the 
arrangements, I intend to exchange this regiment for another and a 
better pne. 

To operate on this coast with success (I mean between this and Florida) 
we want more At any rate, I think we ought to have a much 


larger force in this department. If I had twenty or twenty-five thousand 
men, in conjunction with the navy, we could do much on this coast to 
bring back from Virginia the troops of North Carolina, South Carolina, and 
Georgia ; but the arrangements should be left to Commodore Stringham 
and myself. I do not think it can be done efficiently at Washington. We 
know better than anyone at Washington attached to the navy what we 
require for such expeditions. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

John E. Wool, 

Major- General. 

My friends, a great many of them, were very much disturbed by 
this position of things. They said that this action of General Scott 
was intended to flight me; that I was made second in command, 
and that I ought to resign at once and go home, and the people 
would set it all right; that Scott had never blamed me for the 
reverse of even a platoon under my command except at Bethel, and 
that there the movement was well planned and failed only because 
it had to be carried out by somebody else than myself, so that at 
any rate I was not to blame. 

I told all my friends that I did not feel aggrieved at all; that I 
would beat Scott at his own game, as indeed I was already prepared 
to do ; that he had sent Wool down without any instructions ; that 
Wool could not go anywhere or do anything ; that Wool did not 
like Scott any better than Scott did me ; that Wool wanted all the 
work done by some one else while he had a nice place in the camp, 
and I wanted to do all the work I could do and have somebody else 
take the responsibility. 

I had been watching the building of Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark. 
I had had some loyal North Carolinians for many weeks in the forts 
at work, and I proposed, as soon as I could, to take the forts, for they 
were very important. But it would be of no more use for me to ask 
Scott for any troops with which to do it than it would be to attempt 
to fly. No, he would not even let me take the troops I had or any 
part of them. 

Therefore, as soon as General Wool got fairly in his saddle, I 
explained to him these matters about the forts at Hatteras, and the 


great necessity of taking them. Now he was an officer in the reg- 
ular army and I knew would never attempt such an expedition 
without a great many men with him; it must be a great expedition. 
Therefore I said nothing to him about how many men I thought it 
would need. I assured him, however, that there could be no danger 
of any attack either upon Newport News or Fortress Monroe, because 
I had sent up a balloon over a thousand feet so as to examine the 
whole country round about, and found that Magruder had retired to 
Bethel and Yorktown with his troops, and given up his expedition 
against Newport News. This, by the way, was the first balloon 
reconnoissance of the war. 

I also told Wool that in his assignment Scott did not mean to 
let him do anything any more than he did me. I set out to him 
the exact condition of things in regard to Hatteras, and informed 
him that the navy was very anxious to make the attack, and if it 
were done while he was in command of that department, it would 
result in great glory to him as the first considerable success of the 
war. After my consultation with him, an order was drawn as 
follows, which he signed : — 

Headquarters Department of Virginia, 

Fortress Monroe, Va., August 25, 1861. 
Special Order No. 13. 

Major-General Butler will prepare eight hundred and sixty troops for 
an expedition to Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, to go with Commodore 
Stringham, commanding Home Squadron, to capture several batteries in 
that neighborhood. The troops will be as follows : Two hundred men 
from Camp Butler and six hundred from Camp Hamilton, with a suitable 
number of commissioned officers, and one company (B) of the Second 
Artillery from Fortress Munroe. They will be provided with ten days' 
rations and water, and one hundred and forty rounds of ammunition. 
General Butler will report, as soon as he has his troops prepared, to 
Flag-Officer Stringham, and he will be ready to embark at one o'clock 
to-morrow. As soon as the object of the expedition is attained the 
detachment will return to Fortress Monroe. 

Captain Tallmadge, chief quartermaster, will provide a detachment of 
eight hundred and sixty men for the expedition to Hatteras Inlet, with a 
suitable quantity of water for ten days' consumption, and the chief commis- 
sary of subsistence, Captain Taylor, will provide it with rations for the 


same length of time. These officers will report the execution of these 
orders by ten o'clock to-morrow if possible. 
By command of Major-General Wool : 

C. C. Churchill, 

First Lieutenant, Third Artillery, 
Act. Asst. Adjt.- Gen. 

Armed with the order we left Fortress Monroe at one o'clock on 
Monday, August 26. The last ship of our fleet but the Cumber- 
land arrived at Hatteras about 4 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon. 
We went to work landing troops that evening and put on shore all 
we could, 345, when all our boats became swamped in the surf. 
Our flat boat was stove, and also one of the boats from the steamer 
Pawnee. We therefore found it impracticable to land more troops. 
The landing was being covered by the guns of the Monticello and 
the Harriet Lane. I was on board the Harriet Lane directing the 
landing of the troops by means of signals, and was about landing 
with them, when the boats were stove. We were prevented from 
further attempts at landing by the rising of the wind and sea. 

In the meantime the fleet had opened its fire upon the nearest 
fort, which was finally silenced and its flag struck. No firing was 
opened upon our troops from the other fort, and its flag was also 
struck. Supposing this to be a signal for surrender, ' Colonel 
Weber, who was in command on shore, advanced his troops up the 
beach. By my direction the Harriet Lane was trying to cross the 
bar so as to get in the smooth water of the inlet, when the other 
fort opened fire upon the Monticello, which had proceeded in 
advance of us. 

Early the next morning the Harriet Lane ran in shore for the 
purpose of covering any attack upon the troops. At the same time a 
large steamer was observed coming down the sound. She was 
loaded with reinforcements of the enemy, but she was prevented 
from landing. At eight o'clock the fleet opened fire on the forts 
again, the flag-ship being anchored as near as the depth of water 
allowed and the other ships coming gallantly into action. Mean- 
while I went with the Fanny over the bar into the inlet. As the 
Fanny rounded in over the bar, the rebel steamer Winslow went up 
the channel having on board a large number of rebel troops, which 


she had not been able to land. We threw a shot at her from the 
Fanny, but she proved to be out of range. I then sent Lieutenant 
Crosby on shore to demand the meaning of the white flag which 
had been hoisted. The boat soon returned, bringing the following 
communication from Samuel Barron, late captain in the United 
States Navy: — 

Fort Hatteras, August 29, 1861. 
Flag- Officer Samuel Barron, C. S. Navy, offers to surrender Fort 
Hatteras, with all the arms and munitions of war ; the officers to be allowed 
to go out with side arms and the men without arms to retire. 

S. Barron, 

Commanding Naval Defences Virginia and North Carolina. 

A verbal communication also was sent by Barron stating that he 
had 615 men in the fort and one thousand more within an hour's 
call, but that he was anxious to spare the effusion of blood. 

To both the written and verbal communications I made reply as 
follows, and sent it by Lieutenant Crosby : — 

Benj. F. Butler, Major- General U. S. Army, commanding, in reply to 
the communication of Samuel Barron, commanding forces at Fort Hatteras, 
cannot admit the terms proposed. The terms offered are these : Full 
capitulation ; the officers and men to he treated as prisoners of war. No 
other terms admissible. Commanding officers to meet on board flag-ship 
Minnesota to arrange details. 

After waiting three quarters of an hour Lieutenant Crosby 
returned, bringing with him Captain Barron, Major Andrews, and 
Colonel Martin, of the rebel forces. Upon being received on board 
the tug Fanny, they informed me that they had accepted the terms 
proposed in my memorandum, and had come to surrender themselves 
and their command as prisoners of war. I informed them that inas- 
much as the expedition was a combined one of the army and navy, 
the surrender must be made on board the flag-ship to Flag-Officer 
Stringham as well as to myself. They went on board the Minnesota, 
and the capitulation was agreed to. 

I will ^mention in this connection that at the moment that my 
terms of capitulation were under consideration by the enemy, the 


transport Adelaide, crowded with troops, had grounded upon the 
bar; but by the active and judicious exertions of Commander Stell- 
wagen she was got off after some delay. At the same time the 
Harriet Lane, in attempting to enter over the bar, had grounded 
and remained fast. Both were under the guns of the fort. This 
to me was a moment of the greatest anxiety. By these accidents a 
valuable ship of war, and a transport steamer, with a large portion of 
my troops, were within the power of the enemy. I had demanded the 
strongest terms, which he was then considering. He might refuse, 
and, seeing our disadvantage, renew the action. But I determined 
not to abate a tittle of what I believed to be due to the dignity of 
the government, nor even to give an official title to the officer in 
command of the rebels. Besides, my tug was in the inlet, and at 
least I could carry on the engagement with my two rifled six- 
pounders, well supplied with Sawyer's shells. 

The harm to the enemy by this capture was very great. We had 
715 prisoners, one thousand stand of arms, thirty pieces of cannon, one 
ten-inch columbiad, a prize brig loaded with cotton, a sloop loaded 
with provisions and stores, two light boats, a schooner in ballast, 
five stand of colors, and 150 bags of coffee. 

But this was not all the damage inflicted upon the enemy. As 
long as we kept control of the sea, we could hold that post for all 
time with a small force. That was exactly what we did do, and 
with a very small force — less than one thousand men. By so 
doing we controlled the whole coast of North and South Carolina 
in the sounds, and held the water communication from Norfolk to 
Beaufort, South Carolina. Burnside's expedition afterwards never 
could have been sent out had we not held Hatteras. 

The wonderful stupidity at Washington desired Hatteras Inlet 
stopped up, so that nothing could get into or out of it. So the 
fleet had supplied itself with two sand-laden schooners to sink in 
the inlet, where the sands floating around would have soon made 
dry land. 

When I came there I saw the importance not only of having the 
inlet open but of guarding and defending it. I had positive orders 
from Washington to sink the sand vessels. With my usual "haz- 
ardous bravado " I came to the conclusion to disobey orders and not 
sink the vessels. I could do that with some safety, I thought, pro- 


vided I got to Washington and carried the news of the capture 

Accordingly I had the wounded placed on board the transport 
steamer Adelaide, and had this vessel detached by leave of Flag- 
Officer Stringham of the navy, — a gallant officer, an energetic man, 
and a thorough gentleman, who had shown great capability and 
courage in that expedition, and who was rewarded for it soon after 
by being detached from his command and sent up to the Charles- 
town Navy Yard, near Boston, to superintend the repairing of 
hulks. He was to remain at Hatteras with the fleet to supply and 
defend the fort, until he should hear from me ; and so I steamed 
night and day to Fortress Monroe. 

Reporting to General Wool, I got leave immediately to go to 
Washington, or, as he expressed it, he sent me to Washington to 
report the matter, he agreeing with me that it was very necessary 
to hold Fort Hatteras and keep the inlet open. I went up the bay 
to Annapolis and left the wounded there, arriving there at a late 
hour in the evening. I immediately made requisition for a train 
to take myself and staff to Washington, and we started at eleven 
o'clock at night. 

When we reached the junction of the Elkton Railroad with the 
Baltimore & Ohio, nineteen miles from Washington, I was 
informed that I could go no further that night. I asked why not, 
and the officer in charge said that they had no train in which to 
send me. 

"I have a train of my own to go with," I replied. 

"Well," said he, "I have been talking with your engineer, and 
he says it is dangerous to go." 

"Well, I hope you haven't frightened him so he won't go," I 
replied. Going to the engineer I said : " Won't you go to Wash- 
ington with me ? " 

"If you say I shall go, I shall go, General, but it is dangerous." 

"Oh, well," I said, "I have not come here for safety. Why is 
it dangerous ? " 

He said that it was because there was only one track open, 
and there might be freight trains coming out of Washington, and 
that we 'might run into them, as they started some time about 



"Well," I said, " we will detach all the cars and I will go with 
you on the engine ; " and jumping on the engine, with one member 
of my staff, the rest remaining behind as there was no room for 
them, I said: "Let her go." 

"Shall we go slow," said he, "so that we shall find out when a 
train is coming before we reach it, in time to back out ? " 

"With only your engine you ought to back out very quickly." 

"Oh, well," said he, "but I want your directions." 

"Very well; let her go as fast as she can go." 

"Then," he says, "hold on to your cap, General," and we went 
that nineteen miles in forty minutes, and got into the depot at 
Washington five minutes before any train started out. 

Dropping a twenty-dollar gold 
piece in the hands of the engineer, I 
got off, woke a sleeping negro in a 
carriage, and told him to drive up to 
Postmaster-General Blair's house, 
opposite the White House, as fast as 
he could. As I drove up I saw Mr. 
Blair and the Assistant Secretary of 
the Navy, Mr. Fox, sitting together 
in his study. I went in. Fox knew 
that I had gone on the expedition to 
Hatteras, for it was one in which he 
was much interested. When he saw 
me he cried out: "Where from? " 

"Direct from Hatteras." 

"What news?" 

I stated the result of the expedition. He was very much elated, 
and asked me to go right over and tell the President about it. 

" We ought not to do that, " said I, " and get him up at this time 
of night. Let him sleep." 

"He will sleep enough better for it; so let us go and wake him 

We went over to the White House and got the watchman up. It 
took us some fifteen minutes to do it, and I remember remarking to 
Fox that if I was on the other side I could have come here and cap- 
tured the President and carried him off. Then we went up into the 

Gustavus Y. Fox, 

Ass't Secretary of United States Navy. 

From a Photograph. 


Cabinet room. The President was called, and when our errand was 
hinted to him he immediately came in in his night shirt. 

Everybody knows how tall Lincoln was, and he seemed veiy 
much taller in that garment; and Fox was about five feet nothing. 
In a few hurried words, without waiting for any forms or cere- 
monies, Fox communicated the news, and then he and Lincoln fell 
into each other's arms. That is, Fox put his arms around Lincoln 
about as high as his hips, and Lincoln reached down over him so 
that his arms were pretty near the floor apparently, and thus holding 
each other they flew around the room once or twice, and the night 
shirt was considerably agitated. The commanding general was 
entirely overcome hj the scene, and lying back on the sofa roared 
with the 'most irresistible merriment. 

It was the first considerable success that the navy had anything 
to do with up to that time, or, indeed, the army either, except at 
Baltimore and Annapolis. The President shook me very warmly by 
the hand, and when I ventured to speak about what I had not done, 
he said : 4 4 You have done all right, you have done all right. Come 
to-morrow at ten o'clock and Ave will have a Cabinet meeting 
over it. " 

I retired, and at ten o'clock the next morning I made my report 
to the President in Cabinet meeting. Among those present was 
General McClellan, whom I then saw for the first time. I 
explained the whole situation, giving reasons why I had not obeyed 
orders and stopped up Hatteras Inlet, and also stating the necessity 
for holding Fort Hatteras. On the next day I had the pleasure to 
report to my chief, General Wool, whom I never saw as such after- 
wards, that the Cabinet had voted unanimously that he should hold 
Fort Hatteras and Hatteras Inlet. 

I had opened the way through Annapolis for the troops to save 
the capital; I had fulfilled my mission at Fortress Monroe; and by 
taking Hatteras I had atoned for capturing Baltimore and wiped out 
Big Bethel, all in a campaign of four months and fifteen days, 
besides showing the administration and the country the best way 
out of the slavery question. In all this time nobody else had done 
anything except to get soundly thrashed at Bull Run. Therefore 
I asked tfie President, as I had not been home since I left there on 
the 16th of April, if he would be kind enough to relieve me and 


allow me to go home. His farewell when lie shook my hand was 
characteristic : — 

M You have a right to go home, General, for a little rest, but 
study out another job for yourself. ' ' 

I may truthfully say, with pride and gratitude, that my road home 
was an ovation, but for a while my position was an extremely annoying 
one. Four months and a half before, the young lawyer had left Boston 
where he could go anywhere and everywhere and not be disturbed 
by anybody. The general now came back, and was not allowed to 
go anywhere or do anything without somebody interfering with him 
and insisting upon his being here or going there, with an enormous 
quantity of stuffing and feasting. It was so sudden a change from 
perfect freedom to a perfect slavery of kindness — from taking his 
constitutional walk in the morning any and everywhere, to not being 
able to go anywhere without a carriage, because he could not go 
through the streets for the multitude of hand shakings and greetings 
that he had to undergo — that it was hardly enjoyable. 

It will' serve, I hope, some future student of the art of carrying 
on war with volunteer troops, — and I am inclined to think that 
they are the only troops that we will use in large numbers in the 
future, on this side of the Atlantic at least, — if we examine some of 
the causes of the nation's failure at the battle of Bull Run, Avhich 
had greater results and a more substantial effect on the country than 
any other in the war, except, perhaps, the battle of Gettysburg. 

The battle ought not to have been fought at that time by any 
officer. It was a predestined and foredoomed defeat. It was 
fought under every condition of difficulty and discouragement with 
which it was possible to surround a battle. It was urged on in a 
manner and under an influence disgraceful to the common sense of 
mankind. The New York Tribune set up a clamor day by day, 
which had no foundation save in the half-addled brain of its editor, 
a man who had not strength enough to stand a political defeat in 
after years without going idiotically insane. His cry of "On to 
Richmond ' ' was repeated by other newspapers, and in this way a 
great pressure was brought to bear upon the Cabinet, to which they 
more or less reluctantly yielded. 

Scott, too, was practically about to retire and give way to some 
younger general as commander of the Army of the Potomac, and 


practically as commander-in-chief. He saw in the movement towards 
Richmond the last chance of having any fighting done under his 
command; and as he wished to go out in a blaze of glory, he 
consented to it. 

It is but fair to McDowell to say that he was reluctant to fight the 
battle. But he was urged on to fight it, as is shown by his report, for 
the very reason that he should not have fought it. He says : — 

I am somewhat embarrassed by the inability of the troops to take care 
of enough of their rations to make them last the time they should, and by 
the expiration of the term of service of many of them. The Fourth Penn- 
sylvania goes out to-day, and others succeed rapidly. I have made a re- 
quest to the regiment that they remain a few days longer, but do not hope 
for much success. In a few days I shall lose many thousands of the best 
of this force. 

It is made very clear that for those very reasons he should not 
have fought the battle then. Substantially all his troops were 
going home soon and would not fight. They had been out for their 
three months, as they had engaged to be, and like schoolboys they 
were notching the days on a stick when they would go home. 

McDowell was a captain three months before. He had had no 
experience in fighting troops. He was a brave man, but that was 
the last time he would get a chance to fight there at the head of the 
Army of the Potomac. 

He speaks in that report of the men being well disciplined. An 
older general than he, I venture to disagree with him. Troops 
do not get disciplined in ninety days, especially if that is to be 
their term of service. 

There are two conditions under which fresh troops, new troops, 
and especially volunteer troops, will fight well. The first is: When 
they are brought into the field for the first time and know nothing 
about the meeting; when they think that a regiment cut to pieces is 
not more than one third left alive, and when they really think they 
are to fight up to about that point. Under such circumstances they 
will fight well even if they hardly know enough of the school of 
the soldier to load their muskets rightly. 

When in the course of conversation I have stated to some officers 
with what readiness new volunteers go into action if called upon to 


act at once, I have had occasional doubt expressed, the doubters 
agreeing that they knew nothing on the subject. This has led me to 
examine the matter with considerable care, and I am confirmed in my 
opinion by the action of raw troops in several instances from my per- 
sonal knowledge. But I think one of the very best illustrations I can 
give of the action of raw troops is in the case of a single Maine regi- 
ment, the First Maine Heavy Artillery, afterwards Eighteenth Maine. 
The regiment was raised and sent to Washington to guard the forts. 
It had never been in the field, nor heard a hostile shot. It was 
moved forward as fast as possible and joined Grant's army the night 
before the battle of Spottsylvania Court House. It went in eighteen 
hundred strong, and when it came out it was with a loss of four 
hundred and eighty-one killed and wounded, twelve of whom were 
officers, and five missing. 

They were put into several battles, including Cold Harbor, down 
to the time of the crossing of the James, June 12. On the 18th of 
July, having about twelve hundred men fit for duty, it was ordered 
to make a charge in double rank, and came out losing six hundred 
and thirty-two killed and wounded, thirteen officers being killed and 
twelve others wounded. And I was told by an officer of that regi- 
ment that after that time they would not have assaulted a pig-pen. 

The trouble comes when you put volunteers in camp, especially 
in the face of the enemy, and let them hear camp rumors, camp 
gossip, camp ghost and scarecrow stories about masked batteries and 
black horse cavalry. As if black horse cavalry were any more 
effective and terrible than white horse or sorrel horse cavalry! 
And yet, during our war, the black horsemen were always the ogre 
of our soldiers. Nor did the men ever stop to reflect that a masked 
battery did not do any harm as long as it remained masked, and 
that when it was unmasked and began to fire it was no worse to 
encounter than a battery of the same size that had never been 
masked. Men so instructed will not fight at all ; they are full of 
all manner of surprises ; they will run at nothing and be surprised 
at everything. And that was the condition of McDowell's army as 
far as the three months' men were concerned, and none but the 
regulars had been in the service more than three months. 

The other condition under which men will fight, is after they have 
been in the service long enough and got sufficiently disciplined to 


know how to tight ; have had their first scare in a battle, and have 
learned that a regiment cut to pieces means a regiment that has 
lost one man in ten. Then they will fight better and better as long 
as they remain in the service, if they have proper officers, who 
treat them kindly and justly. 

Then the three months' officers were always worse than the men. 
They were of necessity to be more exposed in action than the 
men. They generally had good homes and nice places to go home 
to, and a great many of them would say if they got out of this 
action they would never get into another. 

Then there was another matter : Everywhere among green troops 
there is a chronic disposition to over-estimate the number of the 
opposing troops. The first duty of the commander should be to 
lind out exactly how many troops there are in the bodies opposed to 
him. It is exceedingly easy to do that, but it was never done in 
the beginning of the war; and the fearful imaginations of officers 
multiplied their opponents wonderfully. 

We have already seen that at Great Bethel, General Pierce and 
his men believed the fortifications, instead of being four were four- 
teen feet high, that the four guns were twenty, and that the five 
hundred rebels in the fortification were four or five thousand. And 
on the other hand, the rebels believed that the Yankee force of 
General Pierce that they saw was five thousand men, when there 
were really but eight hundred. 

And so at Bull Run. The entire Union force, sick and well, 
was 35,732 men; whereas there is a printed estimate reported by 
the Confederate authority of 54,140. After the battle, the officers 
in charge of the prisoners captured by the rebels, having made a 
calculation by asking the prisoners what regiments or batteries 
they belonged to, gravely reported the Federal force on the field 
that day at 63,000. 

And so exactly about everything else. The total actual loss of 
the United States troops in killed, wounded, and missing was 
1,107. The total loss on the Confederate side, as reported by the 
rebel general, Joe Johnston, was 1,897. He naively concludes his 
report in that regard with the statement that the loss of the enemy 
could not be ascertained, but must have been four or five thousand. 

There was another matter: Both sides left the field, and both sides 


in their reports lied about the manner of leaving. Either side could 
have pursued the other ; certainly the Confederate troops could have 
come into Washington without difficulty if they had chosen to come. 

Again, Bethel and Bull Run are alike in another thing: In 
Bethel our people retreated because they thought they saw large 
numbers of reinforcements coming up. At Bull Run our troops 
retreated in disorder and gave way because they saw the cars coming 
in from Harper's Ferry loaded with Johnston's troops of the Army 
of the Shenandoah, and so they gave up all for lost. And the 
general idea of the people to this day is that the coming up of 
Johnston's army from Harper's Ferry on the afternoon of the battle 
as a surprise reinforcement was the cause of the loss of Bull Run. 

Now, the reports on both sides show that Johnston evaded Pat- 
terson at Harper's Ferry in obedience to an order sent him on the 
17th, and that he and all his army got down to Bull Run on the 
night of the 19th, and were in front of McDowell on the 20th; and 
so far from Joe Johnston's men coming into the action late on the 
21st, and our men running away from them, these men bore sub- 
stantially the whole brunt of the battle during the day, and lost 
more than twice as many men as did the rebel Army of the Potomac. 

Besides, and in addition to all these disadvantages of the conduct 
of the battle, Johnston's force had been allowed by Patterson to 
escape him entirely, and Patterson never thought of following him 
up. If he had followed him up he could have been in Johnston's 
rear or on the left flank of the rebel army at the battle of Bull Run. 
But what could Patterson do? The rebel army had gone away 
from him, and he did not know they were gone until three days 
afterwards. He thought there were thirty-five thousand men before 
him, when there had been less than nine thousand, and they had 
gone down to operate on McDowell's right. 

The battle of Bull Run illustrates every vice, weakness, and 
incapacity of officers and men, who were good and true undoubtedly, 
but in a condition in which they will never fight. So bad was it 
all that one might reverently believe that a special Providence 
ordered it, so that slavery might be wiped out. Because if we had 
beaten at Bull Run, I have no doubt the whole contest would have 
been patched up and healed over by concessions to slavery, as 
nobody in power was ready then for its abolition. 



Y return home under the circumstances related in the 
preceding chapter gave opportunity for occurrences 
at once very novel and diverting. When I got to 
Lowell, my friends and neighbors insisted upon 
showing me every honor and attention, which were 
accepted as tokens of personal friendship and regard. 
But there was another thing which I never heard of 
or read of before, and which showed me a curious phase of human 
nature. As I have said before, I had lived in Lowell from boyhood. 
I knew perhaps of its citizens, men and women, as many as anybody 
else, and I think more of them knew me by sight than any other 
citizen. But now* persons whom I had known would halt on the 
sidewalk to see me pass ; would get in my way to examine me and 
look me over (and this refers to both sexes) ; would surround me 
in depots and other public places and hem me in without a word, 
as if determined to see what change had been made in me, — 
whether I was the same man who went away a few months before. 
Particular friends, men that I had known, would do the same thing 
with doubtingness. It afforded a curious spectacle, and sometimes 
the sensation was not altogether pleasant. 

For the first day I supposed it might be my uniform, and so I 
went back and got into my lawyer's coat, trousers, and slouch hat, 
thinking that would set them all right. But it didn't; and it has 
hardly ceased to be the case yet. I think I at last came to know 
what hero worship meant. 

I have mentioned that just before being relieved from Fortress 
Monroe 1 had sent a little reconnoissance into Eastern Virginia on 
the peninsula to see if that section could easily be separated from 



the rebel State. I had communicated with General Scott, and I 
found soon after I got home that General Dix was permitted to 
gather a force with which to make my expedition. I saj " my, " 
because the dates will show who originated it. Again, I found 
that General McClellan had awakened to the necessity and useful- 
ness of an expedition to North Carolina via Hatteras and the Sounds, 
and that he had detailed General Burnside to come up here and 
raise troops for that purpose. 

There were things enough to be done, but there began to be great 
difficulty in getting troops enough to do those things. This was 
because recruiting had come to an absolute standstill. Senator 
Henry Wilson, who was the chairman of the Committee of Military 
Affairs of the Senate, had openly said in the Senate that no more 
troops were needed ; that recruiting ought to stop. He was also on 
General McClellan's staff. But Wilson did not echo the wishes of 
his chief, for even then McClellan was demanding more troops for 
the Army of the Potomac. 

My attention being called to this matter of recruiting, I examined 
it with some care. I found that the war was dwindling into a par- 
tisan one. The governors of States insisted upon having all the 
troops under their own administration and control. They thus 
obtained the appointment of all the officers of regiments, including 
the colonels. The governors of substantially all the States were 
Republicans, and the army was being recruited almost entirely by 
the friends and proteges of the Republican governors. These men 
enlisted their Republican neighbors and associates, and then, to eke 
out their companies so that they could be put at the head of them, 
they recruited all the scallawags there were in their neighborhood, 
and not unfrequently robbed the houses of correction and the State 
prisons, the governor pardoning the prisoners on the condition that 
they shouLd enlist. 

It struck me very forcibly that if this thing went on, it would 
very soon become a party war, and if that took place it would be 
very disastrous because it might bring about a division of the North. 

Perhaps I can better explain all I mean about this by stating 
exactly what I did about it. I think I had spent about seven days 
in Massachusetts when I Avas invited to speak in Faneuil Hall, at 
a meeting to promote the prosecution of the war. I wrote to that 


meeting that I could not attend because I went in for vigorous 
prosecution of the war, and as evidence of it I had gone. 

When I reached Washington I called upon the President. He 
received me very kindly and conversed with me about several 
matters which interested him. One of them was upon the question 
of punishing desertion by death. I had observed how much the 
army was losing by desertion and that there was no punishing 
for that crime. I advised him very strongly to punish deserters 
ruthlessly by death, until, in the Army of the Potomac at least, 
desertion should be stopped. At this time men were deserting 
and going home, and then selling themselves for substitutes or 
enlisting to fill the quota of some other town, getting large sums 
of money to go back again. Some of them even Avould desert 
from the troops of one State and get appointed officers of the troops 
of another State. 

The President was a good deal disturbed by the arguments I put 
before him, but at last he came round and said, with a face that 
showed a very sorrowful determination : — 

"How can I have a butcher's day every Friday in the Army of 
the Potomac ? " 

"Better have that," said I, "than have the Army of the Potomac 
so depleted by desertion that good men will be butchered on other 
days than Friday." 

But we never convinced each other on that subject; it was the 
one subject on which we agreed to disagree. That I was right and 
he was wrong I may have occasion to show hereafter. 

"Mr. President," said I, after we had finished discussing the 
matter of desertions, "when I accepted the commission with which 
you were kind enough to honor me, I told you that we had disagreed 
in politics, but that so long as I held the commission I should fully 
and faithfully sustain all the acts of your administration, and when 
I felt that I could not do that, I would return the commission. But 
you asked me to promise to lay before you any matter upon which I 
disagreed with you, before I took that step. Accordingly I have 
come here to lay before you your method of carrying on this war as 
it strikes me, and to put before you what I think must be the result 
if some* change is not made. I can speak freely, because the thing 
to which I wish to call your attention is not your fault but your mis- 


fortune, and were it not for that fact it would be deadly to your 
administration and your cause." 

" To what do you refer ? " 

" To the method in which your armies are being raised. I, as you 
know, had nothing to do with recruiting a single soldier, but I have 
lately been at home looking into the matter. I find all the good 
men of your army are Republicans as a rule, or are all scallawags, 
State prison birds, and other vagabonds, picked up to fill out enlist- 
ments. As I told you, I am a Democrat. Now there are no Dem- 
ocrats as privates or subordinate officers going into the war. There 
are none going in as officers except they are West Point men, who 
are made colonels of regiments at once, although in the course of 
their profession they would have had to work twenty years before 
they would have obtained that rank. The subordinate officers have 
gathered up what men they could from their Republican neighbors. 
The Democrats in their localities, not having any confidence in 
their politics and looking substantially upon the war as a Repub- 
lican war, are taking no part in it. 

"This seems to me to be bad statesmanship. The President of 
the United States can raise, as he has the right to raise, volunteer 
troops of the United States. When he employs the militia of the 
United States as such, he must employ the militia of the States ; 
but he has full right to enlist volunteers to carry out special objects 
of the war. 

'Think of it a moment, Mr. President. Suppose the governors 
of the States should refuse to raise any volunteers ; would not the 
President of the United States have a right to draft men for the 
service of the United States, and when he drafts such men could 
he not appoint officers to organize and draft them without the 
leave of the governors of the States? Furthermore, if the present 
methods of recruiting go on until the election, which is next 
year, and then you have a million of men or so in the field, you 
will be short that number of Republican votes because your voters 
will be in the field. 

* You may perhaps get the States to pass laws, by constitutional 
amendment or otherwise, that your soldiers may vote outside of the 
State, yet that would be attended in ordinary election with a great 
deal of mischievous trouble and quite probable delay. Your aim 


should rather be to get every Democrat possible in the war. Get 
leading Democrats and they will bring in their rank and file, their 
clientele, who believe in them and would rally about them." 

He said: "There is meat in that," which, by the by, was 
a favorite expression of his; "but what would you advise me 
to do?" 

" Well, I will begin with myself ; I am out of a job. I have a 
movement in mind that I hope you will put in my hands. But it 
cannot be done, and you cannot even put it in anybody's hands, 
until you get some men ; and it ought to be begun at least early in 
the spring, the preparation being made for it during the coming 
fall or winter. Give me the authority and the money to organize 
and pay the troops with, and I will go to New England and enlist 
six to ten thousand men. I will have every officer a Democrat, — 
that is, if I can have the appointment of the officers, subject to 
your approval. I won't reject any Republicans that want to be 
enlisted, but I will have four fifths of every regiment good, true 
Democrats, who believe in sustaining the country and in loyalty to 
the flag of the Union, and who will fight for their country under 
command of officers I shall choose. And if I succeed, you had better 
try it in a good many other States." 

" Well, but what will you do with the governors ? " 

" I won't have any difficulty with the governors of any of the 
States in New England but one. I will try not to have any difficulty 
with him, but I do not believe I shall succeed, but I shall enlist as 
many men as I want notwithstanding him." 

" I suppose you refer to Governor Andrew ? " 

"I do; and if he knows the project in which I am enlisting 
he will not only try to stop it in our State, but he will try to 
interfere with it everywhere. He is covering your table now 
with complaints of your administration and of your manner of 
carrying on the war. I shall be glad if you will assist me in this 
by asking the governors to aid me and appoint such officers as I 
desire to have appointed." 

Said he : " I think you had better do it ; draw such an order as 
you want." 

And 'thereupon I drew one and had it signed by the Secretary of 
War, and approved by the President. The order was as follows : — 


Maj-Gen. B. F. Butler is hereby authorized to raise, organize, arm, 
uniform, and equip a volunteer force for the war, in the New England 
States, not exceeding six (6) regiments of the maximum standard, of 
such arms, and in such proportions, and in such manner as he may judge 
expedient ; and for this purpose his orders and requisitions on the quarter- 
master, ordnance, and other staff departments of the army, are to be 
obeyed and answered. Provided the cost of such recruitment does not 
exceed in the aggregate that of like troops now or hereafter raised for 
the service of the United States. 

I came home, and the first New England State I struck was Con- 
necticut. Her chief magistrate was Governor Buckingham, than 
whom a nobler, truer, or more loyal man did not exist. I told him. 
I wanted to enlist a regiment under that order. 

"Well, General," said he, "whom do you want for colonel of 
your regiment? " 

"I want Mr. Henry Deming, late mayor of Hartford." 

Be it known that Mr. Deming was with me at the Charleston 
convention. He was a thorough Democrat, and even a little more 
pronounced on the slavery question than I was. As mayor of 
Hartford he had called the city council together to consult if 
my troops should be allowed to go through Hartford on the way 
to the war. He was a true, loyal man, who did not believe in 
having a war, but who was a patriot to the core. He died the first 
Republican representative to Congress that was ever elected in the 
Hartford district. 

"Why," said the governor, "Deming will never goto the war 
in the world/' 

"Well, Governor, if you offer him the appointment and he 
doesn't go, it will be his fault and not yours, won't it? " 

"Oh, well, I will appoint him if you desire, but I don't think it 
will do any good; you will have to select somebody else, I guess." 

"It may be so," I said; "I guess I will go and see Deming." 

So I walked over to Mr. Deming's office, called upon him, and 
after the usual chat between old friends, I said: "Deming, I am 
going to raise a regiment in Connecticut for a special service, and I 
want a good man for colonel, — I want you." 

'Well, if you do, you cannot have me, because Governor Buck- 
ingham would never appoint me." 


"Then I suppose if he would, you would serve with me. I can- 
not tell you now what the service will be, but it will be a highly 
honorable one, and I hope a fortunate one. You had better not let 
this great war go by without taking a hand in it in behalf of the 
country, for the sake of your posterity. ' ' 

"But do you think Governor Buckingham will appoint me ? " 

"If he won't, you will have done your duty. But I think he 
will ; I think he will not only appoint you but will let you nomi- 
nate to him every officer of your regiment, and will expect you to 
raise the men, — and I expect you to raise them Democrats, every 
one of them, like you and me." 

"General, you are wild." 

"Very well," I said; ""put on your hat and let us go over and 
see the governor, and see whether I am wild or not." 

So we walked over together, and I said : — 

"Governor, I spoke to you this morning about raising a regiment 
in Connecticut for special service. Now I want to recommend 
to you as colonel of that regiment to raise the men, my old 
Democratic friend, Mr. Deming, whom you know very well, 
and I want you to give him full sway in raising his men and 
nominating the officers, because I want a Democratic regiment out 
of Hartford." 

"I hope you will get it and another one too," said the governor; 
and then to Deming: "If you will serve, I will have your com- 
mission made out at once." 

It was done, and Colonel Deming took his oath of office. I 
walked down with him to his house and congratulated him upon 
his appointment, with which he was as pleased as a child with 
a rattle. 

I went thence to Vermont and met Governor Fairbanks. I talked 
to him pretty much as I had to Governor Buckingham. I told him 
that I wanted two gentlemen who had been my associates in the 
Charleston convention appointed colonel and lieutenant-colonel of 
a regiment which I desired to raise in Vermont. 
"You shall have them," said he. 

"And I want from Vermont a battery in addition, — you have 
good hordes here, — and I will have my men select their own horses; 
I have a right to pay for them." 



The Cause of the War. 


To this he agreed. Col. Stephen Thomas was appointed colonel 
of that regiment. 

I then came down through New Hampshire, and met Governor 
Roby; and he agreed that I might have my selection of colonel of 
the New Hampshire regiment. I had in that State a very long-time 
Democratic friend, Capt. Paul R. George, who had been a quarter- 
master under General Cushing in the Mexican War, and was after- 
wards appointed chief quartermaster of General Scott's division, in 
which he served through that war. We were the warmest personal 
friends, and I had in mind for the colonelcy his brother, Lieut. -Col. 
John H. George, a staff-officer of the governor. Lieutenant-Colonel 
George was a very close friend of Ex-President Pierce, then alive, 
and was one of the best advocates in New Hampshire, and one of the 
most reliable Democrats. I saw him, explained what I wished to 
have done and have him do, and said to him : — 

"You have a family growing up around you. Don't you let it 
be said to them that their father took no part in the war for his 
country. ' ' 

John consented to go. When his brother Paul heard of it 
he was overjoyed. We had it all arranged; but Avhen Colonel 
George informed Pierce of it, the ex-president stood out bitterly 
against it, and said everything he could say to dissuade the colonel 
from accepting the position which the governor was ready to 
give him. 

Notwithstanding Colonel George's high respect for Pierce, he 
felt it was the turning-point of his life, and he remained firm in 
his intention of raising a regiment. But Pierce looked upon the 
going to war of his law partner at the head of a New Hampshire regi- 
ment as having a significance of great weight to the Southerners 
as to the unity of sentiment of the North. He determined to pre- 
vent it, and as a means he "plowed with the heifer." 

Mrs. George, the wife of the colonel, and the mother of several 
young children, would have been left in somewhat straitened cir- 
cumstances, as then appeared, if the colonel went to the war. There- 
fore Pierce represented to her that life in camp was very dangerous 
to the morals, and destructive to the requirements and business of 
a lawyer, and that the war was likely to be a long one, and that her 
husband's business would be entirely broken up, and that his con- 


nection with the army would be distasteful to his clients, and would 
entirely destroy his influence as a rising politician in the State. 
Also, that as Colonel George was a very brave, daring man, he 
would be very likely to get killed in action, if he did not die by 

All this matter was reported to me by his brother, the captain, 
who said that he was afraid that his brother's wife would keep 
him at home. "But, " said he, "I will try one thing to prevent 
it. He knows that I have been married so many years that I 
am not likely to have any children. My wife is a woman of 
good fortune of her own, and I will go to Mrs. George and tell 
her that if she will let her husband go to the war, I will make 
my will in favor of himself and of herself and children, not to be 
revoked in case of his death, so that his family, in case of disaster 
to him, shall at least have substantially all that I have got for their 
future support." 

He did go and make that offer, which of course was duly reported 
by the wife to General Pierce. The ex-president met it by saying 
that there could be no will that might not be revoked, and that the 
captain might revoke it in case of her husband's death, and that in 
fact it was no provision at all. So that Pierce beat us, and I lost 
my colonel and my regiment from New Hampshire, for I knew no 
other man who I believed would have raised a regiment of Hunker 
Democrats for the war in New Hampshire at that time. 

Don't let me be misunderstood. A great many Hunker Democrats 
enlisted for the war and fought nobly and bravely. But those who 
were men in position were deterred, from the fact that they could 
hold no place in the war as officers, and the cry went out from the 
"copperhead" press that this was to be a Republican abolition war, and 
not a national one. Meanwhile a regiment was raised by Governor 
Roby in the usual way, and a young West Point lieutenant was 
appointed colonel. But McClellan took the regiment away from 
me to Washington, and soon gave the colonel a very considerable 
promotion. This young man was afterwards captured, together with 
sixteen horses, — an event which gave rise to Lincoln's famous bon 
mot of that time. When the capture was reported to him, he said 
drily: '"Well, I can get brigadiers enough, but where am I to get 
sixteen horses ? ' ' 


While negotiations were going on for the New Hampshire regi- 
ments I came to Massachusetts and called upon Governor Andrew. 
I had called soon after my first arrival home to pay my respects, but 
now I disclosed to him my business. He said that he had promised 
the first two regiments that he should raise to Captain Sherman, who 
wanted to make an expedition to Port Royal, and he desired me to 
wait until those regiments could be got ready, before I commenced 
to recruit. I said to him that I wanted two regiments from Massa- 
chusetts because I was quite sure I could not get any from Rhode 
Island, and that I would wait until I had visited Maine before I 
commenced recruiting in Massachusetts. We parted amicably 
enough. I did not say anything to him about my idea of recruiting 
a regiment of Hunker Democrats, because I was almost certain that 
he would not agree to appoint Democratic officers. He had detailed 
one at the very first of the war, and had been sorry for that detail 
ever since. 

I then went to Maine and saw Governor Washburn. I told him 
I wanted a regiment and a battery, and that I wished that he would 
appoint as the colonel, George F. Shepley, Esq., who had been 
United States Attorney for Maine. He was a Democratic leader 
and had been with me in the Charleston convention. 

" Certainly, ' ' said the governor ; " what a good thing it would be 
if Shepley would only go." 

"I have seen him," I replied, "and I can assure you that he will." 

For the command of the battery I recommended Captain Thomp- 
son, one of the best artillery officers that I ever knew, as well as 
one of the most pronounced Hunker Democrats. But I may say here 
that when he got to New Orleans and saw the iniquities of the sys- 
tem, he turned out the most virulent opponent of slavery in my 
command, save Phelps. 

I then went to Rhode Island, and was treated with great courtesy 
and consideration by the governor. He told me that he much 
regretted he could not aid me in recruiting a regiment in Rhode 
Island, because General Burnside, a citizen and afterwards senator 
of that State, was getting ready an expedition to make an attack 
upon North Carolina through Hatteras Inlet, and the governor 
promised that he should have every Rhode Island man who could be 
raked or scraped together in the State. I told the governor that I 


appreciated fully his situation so far as to agree that I had no claim 
upon him compared with that of his own general. 

I returned to Massachusetts and saw Governor Andrew once more. 
He said that he had appointed Colonel Jones, who had led the 
Sixth Regiment through Baltimore, to raise a regiment to be denom- 
inated the Twenty-Sixth Massachusetts, and that Colonel Jones 
already had the regiment partly raised, and that he would assign 
that regiment to me, and I could encamp it where I chose. He 
further said that I could then go on with my recruiting, and that 
he would turn over a skeleton regiment for me to recruit. 

A skeleton regiment meant one there was nobody in but the 
principal officers. I knew some of the men who proposed to be 
officers of that regiment, and in any view of the matter I should 
just as lief not have them. However, all I said was : — 

"I will accept Colonel Jones' regiment, and we will go to work. 
I will confer further with you, with your leave, as to the second 
regiment. I suppose you will take my nomination of its officers." 

To this he made no reply, and we again parted amicably. 

I procured the Agricultural Fair Grounds, within a couple of 
miles of my house at Lowell, as a place of encampment, and named 
it Camp Chase, and in a few days I got a large number of recruits. 
I was fully content with Colonel Jones, of whom I had a very high 
appreciation. He was well known as a leading Democrat, and 
still remains in that position as lieutenant-governor of the State of 
New York. Meanwhile, except for those recruits who came to me 
because of their respect for my position, and because of their con- 
fidence in me and my officers, recruiting had substantially ceased 
in the State. It was difficult to get many soldiers. 

Massachusetts was very far behind in her quota, and she always 
remained so until she imported Germans in large numbers to fill up 
her ranks, and, in the latter part of the war, sent down to Virginia 
and paid money to have negroes whom I had enlisted in the service 
of the United States and duly mustered, credited to the quota of the 
several towns of Massachusetts. When this last performance came 
to my knowledge, some of the agents who were doing it went into 
the guard-house, and those who were not put there ran away home, 
and that fraud was stopped. And with all that under the perform- 
ances of her administrative officers, Massachusetts had the disgrace 


of a draft, intensified by a draft riot, which had to be put down by 
force of arms. 1 

All of my recruits were credited to the State, and I suppose I 
may modestly and loyally suggest that it would have been better to 
allow me to recruit some few Democrats, — and an event happened 
which would have brought thousands of Irishmen into my ranks, — 
than to have had these disgraces of Massachusetts, which otherwise 
might have been the foremost State in the Union in everything to 
sustain the government, as she was the • first under the lead of a 
Democrat to go to the defence of the capital. 

As soon as I got my camp properly established I called upon Gov- 
ernor Andrew again and informed him that upon reflection I pre- 
ferred not to have the second regiment made up of recruits as they 
would be recruited by the State officials ; that I preferred to have 
them, if I could get them, a regiment of Democrats, every officer 
to be a Democrat, and especially the colonel, and I explained to him 
my reasons. I told him that I had the permission of the Pres- 
ident to have the recruiting of a New England division of Demo- 
crats, and I wanted them of the most pronounced and well-known 
type ; that I should want in addition a battery of artillery and a 
squadron of cavalry similarly officered; and that I desired to recom- 
mend the officers to him for his appointment, subject, however, to the 
withdrawal of anyone whom he did not choose to appoint for reasons 
affecting his character and standing. 

"Whom do you want for colonel? " said he. 

"I think Col. Jonas H. French will make as good an officer as 
anyone I know." 

"Why," said the governor, "French helped break up a John 
Brown meeting." 

'Yes," said I, "that is why I want. him. He showed a dispo- 
sition to fight somebody if necessary, and I guess he can get most 
of his friends who went to that meeting to go with him." 

1 A draft, under the law of Congress, was carried into effect in Massachusetts in the months 
of June and July, 1863, and was entirely an abortive affair as far as men were concerned. There 
were enrolled, between the ages of twenty and forty-five, 164,178. Then there were names of 
persons drawn from the box, numbering 32,079. Of these 6,690 were held to service, and of this 
number only 743 joined the service ; 2,325 procured substitutes. Twenty-two thousand three hun- 
dred and forty-three were exempted, and 3,044 failed to report, that is, they left for Canada or 
elsewhere, and 3,623 paid commutation. So that the whole number of drafted men and substi- 
tutes of drafted men sent to camp was 3,068 ; and of these, 2,720 were assigned and sent to the 
regiments in the front,— that is, the draft produced three regiments of men. 


"You cannot have him," answered the governor. 

" Do you know anything against him ? " 

" That is enough ; I do not want anybody to enter the war for the 
Union who holds such sentiments." 

" But I do want exactly that kind of men to compose my com- 
mand. ' ' 

I then named over the colonels and officers — for their names 
had not yet been made public, — whose appointments I had secured 
from the governors of the other States, and told him that the other 
governors had made no objection. Governor Andrew was very much 

"And Governor," I added, "I want you to recommend the Hon. 
Caleb Cushing, who was president of the Charleston convention, as 
a brigadier-general to go with me into war." 

"He is a friend of Jeff Davis," was the reply. 

"Yes," I said, "and immediately after the firing upon Sumter 
he put himself in his speech at Newburyport wholly on the side of 
the Union." 

"Well," said the governor, "I certainly shall not do that." 

"Oh, well," I said, "I know he some time ago called you a one- 
idea'd abolitionist, and that was true, although it was not a pleasant 
thing to say. But certainly his ability and his position in the 
country would seem to entitle him to the place if he would take it, 
and I think he will." 

"But I will not appoint French, and I will not appoint any other 
officer of his way of thinking in a Massachusetts regiment." 

"Very well, Governor, I shall appoint him, on the authority given 
me by the President, and he will recruit a regiment. ' ' 

"He won't if I can help it." 

"He will, Governor, if he, can with my help." 

Thereupon I left him, and although I called upon him once after- 
wards, I never saw him again to confer with him until the campaign 
was over. 

He immediately came out with various orders in the newspapers, 
abusing me and my enterprise of recruitment. I went to Washington 
and saw the President and General Scott, and in order that I might 
not be overruled by any military order of Governor Andrew as 
commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts militia, I asked for the 


creation of the military department of New England, and that the 
department be placed under my command. An order to this effect 
was given me on the 1st of October, in the following words : — 

The six New England States will temporarily constitute a separate 
military department, to be called the Department of New England ; head- 
quarters, Boston. Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler, United States Volunteer 
Service, while engaged in recruiting his division, will command. 

Soon after this an order was issued by the governor or some mem- 
ber of his staff, that the family of no soldier who enlisted under my 
command should have State aid. 

Recruitment was drooping very much. But, feeling certain that 
Massachusetts would in any event pay State aid to all the soldiers 
who fought the battles of their country in her ranks, independent 
of any personal spite of her governor, who had the good quality of 
cultivating malignity as a parlor plant, I started a recruiting camp 
at Pittsfield in the western part of the State. It was under Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Whelden, a good Democrat, and in a remarkably 
short time he put the camp into the finest possible order. I went 
up to review the regiment, and found it a very considerable one. 
Then, in order that my soldiers should not be discouraged on account 
of their wives and children, I published a letter, in which I guaranteed 
State aid to the families of every one of my recruits. This letter 
was in the following words : — 

Camp Seward, Pittsfield, 
Tuesday, Jan. 7, 1862. 

Lieut.-Col. Whelden, Commanding Western Bay Regiment : 

Colonel : — I have been much gratified with the appearance, discipline, 
and proficiency of your regiment, as evidenced by the inspection of to-day. 
Of the order, quiet, and soldierly conduct of the camp, the commanding 
general cannot speak in too much praise. 

Notwithstanding the difficulties of season, opposition, and misrepresen- 
tation, the progress made would be creditable if no such obstacles had 

In the matter of the so-called State aid to the families of the volunteers 
under your command, I wish to repeat here, most distinctly, the declara- 
tion heretofore made to you. I will personally, and from my private 
means, guarantee to the family of each soldier the aid which ought to be 


furnished to him by his town, to the same extent and amount that the 
State would be bound to afford to other enlisted men, from and after 
this date, if the same is not paid by the Commonwealth to them as to 
other Massachusetts soldiers ; and all soldiers enlisting in your regiment 
may do so upon the strength of this guarantee. 

I have no doubt upon this subject whatever. The Commonwealth will 
not permit her soldiers to suffer or be unjustly dealt with, under whoso- 
ever banner they may enlist. 

The only question that will be asked will be, Are these men in the 
service of their country, shedding their blood in defence of its Constitution 
and laws ? If so, they stand upon an equality with every other man who 
is fighting for his country, and will be treated by the State with the same 
equal justice, whatever may be the wounded pride or over- weening vanity 
of any man or set of men. 

I love and revere the justice, the character, the equity, the fame, and 
name of our glorious old Commonwealth too much to doubt of this for a 
moment, and will at any time peril whatever I may have of private for- 
tune, upon the faith engendered by that love and reverence. 

Accept for yourself, personally, and for your officers, my most earnest 
thanks for the energetic services which you have rendered in the recruit- 
ment of your excellent regiment. 

Most truly your friend, 

Benj. F. Butler, 

Major- General Commanding. 

That was thought by some newspapers to be a very risky and 
hazardous undertaking on my part. But again they were mistaken ; 
there was no risk in it. The towns paid the State aid, and as every 
town wanted every soldier enlisted in it to be credited to its quota, 
I knew they would, as they did, pay the State aid, and there was 
neither risk nor hazard about it. Besides I knew a bird in the 
hand was worth two in the bush, and therefore I got an order from 
the War Department that all troops enlisted under my command 
should have a month's pay in advance, and the governor could not 
get any such inducement. My enlistments were for special ser- 
vice, and he had declined to enlist anybody for that special service. 

My enlistments went on. Besides Colonel Jones' regiment I 
raised two other regiments in Massachusetts, and named them the 
Eastern and Western Bay State Regiments. I appointed the 


officers, and they reported to me and were duly recognized and 
received their pay, and sailed with me for Ship Island. 

I also got another regiment very curiously ; and I give the story, 
because it will show what discipline can do. 

Passing through Connecticut I called upon Governor Buckingham, 
who said to me: "You can do me a great favor, General." 

"What is that, Governor? I will do it if it is possible." 

"I have almost a regiment, something more than eight hundred 
men, all Irishmen, enlisted and encamped here near Hartford. I 
cannot get the regiment up to a thousand men so as to have it mus- 
tered in and have officers appointed. They are naturally good men, 
but they have been idle here for months, and they are wholly with- 
out discipline and without control. They are an actual nuisance. 
I wish you would take them in your division, and then there will 
be one more regiment for you ; and you can take them to your camp 
where you can control them; I cannot control them here any longer." 

"Governor," said I, "I will send an order for them by my quar- 
termaster and his assistant, with directions to have them brought in 
the cars to Lowell, if you give an order that they shall march. ' ' 

"I will, and with pleasure." 

So the Ninth Connecticut was sent for. Their fame preceded 
them, and their conduct on the route to Lowell fully justified their 
fame. They managed to tear the roof off of all the cars of the train 
which they were in. They so delayed the train that when they got 
to Groton Junction, twenty miles from Lowell, it failed to connect, 
and they had to stay there all night. Groton Junction was a little 
village, and they proceeded to ransack it for liquor, and they found 
some barrels of it, which they brought away with them. When 
they arrived in Lowell the next morning, under charge of a detach- 
ment which had been sent for them, they were lying packed in the 
cars like herring in a box. They were tumbled into army wagons 
and carried up to the camp. I happened to be there when they came 
in. I had their officers called to me, and I looked them over. 
They seemed to be good enough men, and only one or two were any 
the worse for liquor. Their colonel was a very superior man. 

As I rode down town, I got a note from the mayor informing me 
that a special meeting of the city council had been called, and an 
appropriation voted for the expense of employing five hundred 


special constables to keep the peace against the Connecticut regiment. 
I told the mayor and aldermen to keep their constables out of the 
way or they might get hurt, and that I would take care that the 
peace was kept. 

There was around our camp a board fence, some nine feet high. 
I put the usual number of sentries on the inside, but I doubled the 
number outside the fence. I directed the officer of the guard to 
instruct his sentries on the inside not to have any quarrel or trouble 
with the men unless they were attacked. But the picket guard 
on the outside were to be instructed, whenever they saw a man 
swinging his body over the fence, to poke him back with their 
bayonets, using the bayonet on that part of him where they would 
have the most room, and to do it effectually. 

The next morning, as usual, I went up to the camp. It was 
reported to me that the men behaved well enough until about mid- 
night, when they woke up pretty hungry and very dry. The night 
was not very dark, there being a small moon. They looked around 
and saw the fence. After a while a body of them got together, 
and raising the cry " Connicticut over the fince, " they rushed against 
the fence and climbed up. But the first man that swung over was 
put back on the point of a bayonet, and so on until it was found not 
to be a pleasant entertainment. In fact, they had to stay where 
they were, and to put up with coffee the next morning. 

I caused them to be paraded in a hollow square, and walked into 
the square and told them that I would have no more such conduct as 
that of the previous night; my orders would be enforced to the 
letter, and they had been treated more leniently than they ever 
would be again. I then called the officer of the guard to bring to 
me the man who first put one of the jumpers back over the fence 
with his bayonet. He came up blushing and looking as if he did 
not quite know what would be done with him. I said to him : — 

fc ' My man, can you read and write ? ' ' 

"Yes, General." 

4 'You have done your duty well. Mr. Officer of the Guard, report 
this soldier to the colonel and tell him to appoint him sergeant." 

Then, addressing the men, I said : — 

' c Now, my men, I am going to put the guard to-night around the 
outside of this fence with their muskets loaded with ball cartridges, 


and if any of you attempt to get over the fence that way again I will 
make the man who first shoots one of you a lieutenant." 

I never had any serious trouble with the Ninth Connecticut. 
They would get a little liquor, but that was done very ingeniously. 
Generally my officers of the guard found them out. One of their 
tricks, I remember, was very curious : A great, portly woman used 
to come in to see them — and she seemed to have a good many friends 
among them, — and they would gather about her chatting and evi- 
dently in perfect accord. But the officer of the guard observed that 
one or two who stood behind her seemed to have their heads bowed 
down. An investigation showed him that our visitor had a very con- 
siderable sized rubber tube wound all around her person under her 
dress. This tube had been filled with liquor, and was provided 
with a faucet which was concealed under her cape, and for a consid- 
eration anybody could take a pull at it long enough to get a good 
drink. She was cautioned not to visit the camp, and dismissed. 

Their ranks were filled up, and I took considerable personal pains 
to see that they were well cared for and well taught. 

The effect of that discipline exhibited itself in this. When I 
occupied New Orleans I wanted to encamp a regiment in Lafayette 
Square, a small park in the centre of the city. The streets around it 
were inhabited by the best families. I chose the Ninth Connecticut. 
They remained in camp about three months, and so well did they 
conduct themselves that when I was about to move them elsewhere 
and put another regiment in their stead, because they had had a soft 
place long enough, I had a very large petition presented to me of all 
the neighbors of their camp to have them remain. Their conduct 
was so exemplary, their care of the children who went to play in the 
park so tender and kind, that the inhabitants hoped that I would 
allow them to stay, as they did not think I could send them another 
regiment that would please them so well. 

When the Ninth Regiment was on Ship Island, a party of them 
was sent out to the upper part of the Island to relieve a detail from 
the Twenty-Sixth Regiment, who were cutting wood. It was foggy 
when they came to the place of meeting, and as the two bodies of 
men came near each other of course the first thought was they must 
be Confederates, each seeming so to the other. Both began to get 
ready for a fight, when an Irishman of the Ninth said : "Be me sowl, 


I believe, Captain, that these are the Twenty-Sixth's boys. Let me 
find ont; I will give them the countersign." 

"Mike, you fool, what countersign have you?" 

u Oh, aisy, Captain;" and he stepped forth and cried out: "Con- 
nicticut over the fince." 

The men on both sides broke out into roars of laughter, and all 
danger of a collision was averted. 

Meanwhile Governor Andrew, aided by the two Massachusetts 
senators, Sumner and Wilson, was doing everything he could to 
move the President and Secretary Cameron to interfere with my 
authority to make enlistments. The governor wrote most personal 
and abusive letters regarding me to the senators, and then published 
them. I do not think it affected Wilson much, because he had 
been a Whig, a Know-Nothing, and a Free-Soiler, according to the 
changes of parties, and did not take Abolitionism much to heart ; 
but Mr. Sumner did everything he could do to disturb me and to 
serve Andrew. 

Sumner had plenty of leisure for this sort of thing. Although he 
was in the Senate for more* than a quarter of a century, ten lines of 
laws upon the statute books of the United States drawn by him are 
yet to be found. 

There was one thing that affected my recruiting favorably, more 
than all Governor Andrew's performances did unfavorably. 

On the 7th of November, 1861, Commodore Wilkes, with the San 
Jacinto, captured the Trent, having on board Mason and Slidell, the 
rebel emissaries to England and France. The Trent was an English 
passenger boat, — and of course a mail steamer, — • and England was 
in name neutral. That is to say, her people were with the North, 
her government held itself apparently impartial, and her aristocracy 
and monied class were entirely with the South. Captain Wilkes 
treated the Confederate commissioners very fairly and properly; 
and through his courteous kindness to the passengers of the Trent 
and the owners of the vessels he committed a mistake in point of 
law which it was claimed rendered his capture illegal. This mis- 
take consisted in not bringing in the vessel, so that he might sub- 
mit his capture to the courts. He did not apparently know that 
this was necessary, and, in order not to discommode the consid- 
erable number of English passengers by bringing them to the 



Andrew Jackson Butler. 


United States instead of letting them go on to England, — probably 
thinking that the owners of the Trent might also be considered, — 
he did not bring the vessel in as a prize. 

These proceedings of Wilkes created the most intense excite- 
ment. There was great glee on the part of the true Americans of 
this country when it was learned that the rebel emissaries had been 
captured. There was great sorrow on the part of the South, except 
that they believed that England would undertake to resent the 
seizure, as she did, and then their sorrow turned to joy. After 
England did undertake to interfere, there was regret for the seizure 
on the part of the timid and nervous good people of the North. 

The manner and course of action of the government of England 
was wholly unprovoked, unjustifiable, and in violation of the cour- 
tesies due between friendly nations, and in disregard of her own 
conduct in like cases. The usages of diplomatic propriety demanded 
of her that she should, without offensive expression, or action, or 
implication of any sort, call upon this country to explain the cap- 
ture of the rebels, or to indicate what claim would be made by the 
United States upon the men thus captured, and what reparation or 
apology, if any, we would make to England for a wholly uninten- 
tional violation of her dignity. On the contrary, the British Cabinet 
flew into a passion. They ordered a considerable force of troops to 
be sent to Canada, and ordered a large number of vessels sent to 
Halifax, and they sent over to Canada a little general who was not 
then (or ever) a general. And this they did before our government 
could know officially or properly what had been done. 

To appreciate the utterly useless folly of this movement of troops 
and vessels on the part of Great Britain, we have only to reflect that 
the capture was made on the 7th of November. She could not pos- 
sibly have got her troops started until the first of December, and 
then her ships and troops could never have got farther than Halifax, 
as the ice of winter would have sealed up the St. Lawrence and 
all the other rivers of Canada. 

England ought also to have remembered that at one time in the 
Case of one of her rebellious provinces, Quebec, she found herself in 
this same difficulty in sending her troops over to put down the 
rebellion, and had to ask the consent of our government to let the 
troops pass over our territory. Now if they were forced to go 


to war about the Trent matter they would have to ask the same 
courtesy of our government to get their troops into Canada, unless 
they forced their way over our territory, and that was a game at 
which two could play. 

It is almost a ludicrous event that, in fact, England was forced to 
ask our consent in this case, that her troops might pass over our 
territory, landing them at Portland, to fight us upon their arrival 
on her own ground, and that our government consented, which 
was a poignant sarcasm upon the use the troops would be to her 
in Canada. 

Gen. Caleb Cushing was the ablest international lawyer of this 
country, and he had the reputation in Europe of being the ablest 
in any country. He was with me at that time, and I could have 
had his services as brigadier-general in the expedition to New 
Orleans, had not his appointment by the President been rejected by 
the Senate. This was done because Wilson, who was chairman of 
the Military Committee of the Senate, was afraid of Andrew, and 
Andrew had demanded the rejection of Cushing because he was 
not a "one-idea'd Abolitionist" as Andrew was. 

General Cushing examined with me the questions of law and 
precedents involved in the Trent affair; and we came to the conclusion, 
as did the Secretary of State after reading that paper (I do not 
say because of), that against England there could be no doubt 
what the law of nations in such cases was, if she would take her 
own interpretation. 

I need not pause to give more than a single English precedent : — 

Henry Laurens, of South Carolina, a delegate to the first Congress 
and a prominent patriot, accepted the mission from our Revolu- 
tionary Government in 1778, of minister to the Hague, got on board 
a [French neutral vessel, and proceeded on his mission. He was 
captured by an English frigate and carried to England. His papers 
were taken from him, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London 
for three years, not being allowed to communicate with his family 
or his country. He was exposed to every indignity, and regained 
his liberty only when the War of the Revolution ceased after the 
signing of the treaty of peace between England and her former 
rebels. More than that, England declared war on Holland on the 
ground of the papers her officers took from Laurens. 


From the first England would look at the Trent affair only as a 
cause of war. The whole country desired that our government should 
hold Mason and Slidell, and for a time we did hold them. But 
after much consideration Mr. Seward, always fearful that England 
would do something against us, consented to return Mason and 
Slidell, upon the ground that the Trent, although captured, was 
not brought in. That was a subterfuge on our side, and a sneak on 
England's side. If the capture of these men was such an offence 
against the dignity of England, simply letting them go did not 
seem much of a reparation of that wounded pride, being on a tech- 
nical point only. It seemed to me to be a good deal like this: A 
man is arrested for being a thief and counterfeiter. He and his 
friends bluster loudly against that charge and demand his release. 
The captor says : " Well, I will let him go, as there is a technical 
defect in the warrant;" and the rescuers are satisfied. 

For myself, I am obliged now to declare, as I did then, that it 
was the most fatal mistake on our part that could have been made, 
not to have a war with England if she chose. Oh! says one, we 
would have had the whole English army upon us. To that I 
answer: England of her own soldiers has never had more than 
twenty-five thousand men on any one battle-field.. The time has gone 
past for buying Germans to fight her battles. We had more soldiers 
starve at Andersonville than England had men at Waterloo — and 
a larger part of those at Waterloo v\§ere commanded by an Irishman. 
We were raising armies by hundreds of thousands. If England 
had attacked us, the vast advantage would have been that it would 
have made our war a foreign war, in which everybody must have 
taken part, North and South, who was not a traitor to his country. 
No Democrat or Copperhead party could have resolved against the 
war in that case. It would have been a war in which everybody 
must of necessity have engaged, in one form or another, to save the 
life of the country. Whoever fought for England and against 
us at the South would have been a traitor to his own portion of 
the country. Canada would not have been in our way at all. 
Ninety days would have enlisted Irishmen enough to take Canada. 
That could have been taken by contract. It was the beginning of 
winter ; the frost had made a bridge over every stream, and a road 
for march could be built many miles a day to any place. The 


Canadian barns were all full and would have been depositories of 
forage. There would have been no difficulty about our soldiers 
eating the pork and bacon there stored up for winter use, and the 
cattle there would not have been running loose. 

I said when I began this topic, that it was a source of aid to my 
recruitment. So it was, for when patriotic Irishmen began to learn that 
there was a chance for war with England, they came to me in squads. 
And if I had said to them : " Yes, I want you to march to Canada and 
take that first, and then for the western coast of Ireland, or against any 
Englishmen we can find against us down South," I could have filled 
up not only one or two regiments in Massachusetts, but eight or ten. 
No Copperhead would have hesitated to go into my ranks in such a war. 
We could have had no hesitation in setting free the whole negro popu- 
lation of the South to enlist and fight our battles against England. 

But, says another, England with her fleets would have bombarded 
our cities and blockaded our ports. As to the bombardment of our 
cities, that is a bug-a-boo which might have been more potent then 
than it would be now. We have since demonstrated that bombardment 
does not do a great deal of harm to a city. We bombarded the little 
city of Charleston for eighteen months steadily, and we did not do 
$50,000 worth of actual damage; we did not kill as many men in 
Charleston as we burned tons of powder. There will be no more 
bombardments of forts even, since the fiasco of Porter at Forts Jackson 
and St. Philip. Bombardments as matters of importance in war will 
take their place with bayonet wounds and sword cuts. 

I was casting my eye the other day over a page of the consolidated 
report of the wounds received at the battles of North Anna, from May 
21 to May 26, 1864. In these engagements the total strength of the 
army was 51,659, and the whole number of wounded was 1,046. 
There was just one bayonet wound and no sword cut. Yet we all 
remember we were told how reckless the enemy was in charging 
upon our men "sword in hand and with bayonets fixed." 

As to the expenses of the bombardment of our cities : If England 
had declared war, by the rules and laws of war that act would have 
confiscated all the debts our people owed to the subjects of the crown 
of England, and also all property of English citizens in this coun- 
try. I think that would have quite offset the loss of plate glass in 
Broadway by a bombardment. 


As to the question of soldiers : A Russian fleet lay in our harbor 
month after month, waiting and ready to take part with us whenever 
we should say that Great Britain was our declared as well as our 
actual enemy. England would have wanted all her soldiers, and 
all that she could have got or paid for, to take care of the Indies 
against Russia. And the Russian fleet would have made a very 
respectable defence, and would now, for New York harbor. 

It may not be out of place here to say that the certain confiscation 
of many millions of debts the South owed to the North was a great 
inducement to the commercial classes of the South to go into the 

If the administration had had the courage to make such war with 
England what it would and ought to have been under the circum- 
stances that I have above set forth, our Rebellion would not have 
lasted two years, and would not have cost one quarter what it did in 
men and money. 

But, says another, England would have raised the blockade of the 
South, and would have imported into the rebel States everything 
that their people wanted. Assuming that could have been done, 
there are several answers. When England had raised the blockade 
of the Southern States she would have blockaded the Northern ports. 
That would have prevented the balance of trade between our country 
and Europe — which was against us all the time, impoverishing us 
many millions of dollars It would have stopped the great number 
of old and young men with their families going to Europe to live, 
their large expenditures, another source of depletion of our resources, 
all being in gold. 

We had within the United States every material to make muni- 
tions of war, and the war had not progressed far before we did make 
them all. In fact, we were absolutely obliged to throw away the 
Austrian and Enfield rifles we at first purchased abroad for use here. 
We should have then discovered exactly the capabilities which each 
section of our country had as to its resources for carrying on the 
war. Our blockade made the South entirely economical. Our open 
ports made us exceedingly extravagant. If England had opened to 
the world the trade for cotton and tobacco with the South, it would 
have excited the desire for those luxuries claimed to be necessities, 
and paved the way to the indulgence in them. 


When we shut up the ports of the South, during the four years of 
the war, we raised for them ten crops of cotton. That is to say, our 
blockade raised cotton from ten cents, its price at the beginning, to one 
dollar a pound at its close. The price of tobacco, too, was increased 
six fold. A great storage of cotton and tobacco in the South was the 
foundation of their European loans. Cotton and tobacco were all the 
property they had to use for that purpose, and their government held 
it and did so use it. The last loan was the "Cotton loan," which 
could not have been taken for a dollar if this article had not been 
kept in the South, and its price raised by our blockade. 

Indeed, in all the markets of the world for the production of cotton 
goods, cotton so increased in price during the war that it was a serious 
temptation to England to acknowledge Southern independence in 
order to get cotton to supply the industries of Manchester. The 
South did not suffer for arms, neither heavy ordnance nor infantry, 
weapons nor munitions, during the latter years of. the war. The 
greatly enhanced price of cotton made blockade running immensely 
profitable ; and as the Confederate government had half of all the 
cotton which ran the blockade with which to buy arms and munitions 
of war, that supplied the South very fully. 

It will be remembered that at the opening of the war the wise 
men who governed the country through the newspapers, taught us to 
believe that war would so disorganize the labor of the South and 
diminish its agricultural productions that the South would be quickly 
impoverished, not being able to raise crops with which to obtain any 
supplies from abroad. And this stated fact was to be greatly relied 
upon to cripple the South. The results were exactly to the contrary. 

The first conscription act of the rebel congress enrolled into some 
sort of military service every man between the ages of sixteen and 
sixty. But the owners of twenty slaves were exempted, so that, in 
the first year of fighting, cotton and tobacco production were not 
materially interfered with, and in addition, as we have seen, our 
blockade raised the price of every pound of cotton and tobacco ten 
and six fold respectively. This was to our great disaster. Mr. 
Lincoln saw this, and once said to me, at a later period in the war, 
that if he could have his way he would let everything be imported 
into the South save munitions of war and provisions. I am fully of 
the belief that one cause of the extravagant bitterness shown toward 


the North by the Southern women of the higher classes, was that 
our blockade compelled them to wear home-made, and therefore 
unbecoming, dresses. 

Any intelligent reader, looking upon these facts, will agree with 
me that a war with England would not have changed the result in 
this country except to have brought it about much sooner. Of men 
England had no supply worth notice, and besides, Russia was watch- 
ing for her opportunity to wrest from England her Indies. 

Let me also add in passing, that there need never be any fear of 
war by England with this country in the future. She and her citizens 
are pouring money into American investments by the millions of 
dollars annually, thereby giving bonds in billions of money to keep 
the peace with us and be of good behavior to all the world. 

England had statesmen fully capable of appreciating all the 
propositions above set forth, and was guided by them in the deter- 
mination of questions of war between England and this country. 

In view of this, I am, and ever have been, firmly of the opinion 
that war with England over the Trent affair was utterly impossible. 
Following her whole course of diplomacy, she relied upon her 
bullying a weak-kneed Secretary of State into complying with an 
unjust demand, and accepted a subterfuge for an apology. 

The Trent discussion, which lasted from the 15th of November to 
the 23d of December, 1861, caused a delay in my embarkation for 
the South because I had not my troops ready early enough to take 
General Dix's place in the expedition to the eastern peninsula. 

The attention of the government had also been called toward 
Mobile, but an expedition thither did not seem to be a matter 
which would make a diversion of the enemy's plans. General 
McClellan suggested Texas, and asked me to get up a paper on 
Texas, showing its condition, capabilities of being attacked, and 
what would probably be the result of its occupation. Myself and 
stafT went to work, each on a special kindred topic, to examine fully 
and with great care the relations of Texas to the war. The general 
was pleased to compliment our report. 

Meanwhile Captain David D. Porter had been for some time 
preparing a quantity of mortar vessels to bombard southern forts. 
Indeed he had reported that they were all ready, but he did not 
actually get them ready for months. 


The navy desired an expedition made against New Orleans for the 
capture of the Mississippi River, and Mr. Lincoln was anxious that 
a fleet should go up the river and open that great avenue of trans- 
portation. This would relieve the western men along its banks by 
bringing the trade back to New Orleans. 

I caught at the idea at once when it was made known to me. 
But it was necessary to conceal the movement, and accordingly 
after I was assigned to it, I talked Mobile louder than ever, 
and gave out that my expedition was to go to Ship Island, near 
Mobile. But Ship Island was equally as effective against New 
Orleans. Ship Island was selected by Pakenham for a rendezvous 
for the British fleet in his attack on New Orleans when defended 
by Jackson, and by carefully examining his reports to his govern- 
ment, it was easy to get the knowledge necessary for a movement in 
that direction. 

I had my transportation all engaged and was ready to make sail 
whenever the matter was decided, when a telegram came : — 

"Don't sail; disembark the troops." 

It had never occurred to me to put my troops on board vessels 
until the day when they should actually start, for it ought not to be 
ten hours' work to break camp and embark. I could not tell what 
this telegram meant, and I went immediately to Washington. There 
I found that the Mason and Slidell matter was in such a condition 
that it might (as it should have done) result in war with England if 
she so desired. And if it did, I should have to send down and 
bring back the part of my troops that had been sent to Ship Island 
instead of carrying any more there. 

We waited some twenty or twenty-five days after the 23d of 
December, when Seward had given his official answer upon the Trent 
matter, before it was finally decided, and the decision officially 
communicated to our government by England. 

During that time, preparations were all completed, camps were 
broken up, men were got on board ships, horses were forwarded, 
and two thousand troops remaining at Boston, belonging to my 
expedition, were shipped, and the Constitution sailed for Fortress 
Monroe. When I reached Washington General McClellan consented 
to have appointed such staff as I asked for, and after consultation with 


me, made out my orders. But for some reason then unexplained 
they were not issued, and the expedition did not start. 

Whenever a thing that I do not understand happens, I always 
investigate. Anxious to know why the orders had not been issued, 
I looked the matter up. I found that General McClellan was very 
much averse to having the number of men I needed taken away from 
the army around Washington. He very much wanted two hundred 
thousand men there, and he had but one hundred and ninety thousand. 
He did not care with that force to move against the rebels, who had 
more than two hundred thousand men as he believed. In fact, he 
had been peremptorily ordered to move against the enemy on the 22d 
of February, and disobeyed the order. For all this, I could not 
understand why such an important movement as that assigned to me 
should remain unattended to for so many days. I guessed what was 
the matter, and remained on the ground at Washington, leaving my 
troops with the Constitution at Fortress Monroe. But I took care to 
have them disembark from the vessel and put them on land. 

There was but one ear in Washington that was always open to 
me, the President's. He was then embarrassed, as I happened to 
know, from the fact that he could not get McClellan to move. Even 
the President himself was doubtful about the number of troops on 
the other side of the river. It so happened that I was a warm 
friend of Senator Wade, who was chairman of the Committee on 
the Conduct of the War. He was very anxious to have a move- 
ment, and was charing under the inactivity very much. He asked 
me my opinion about the rebel force opposite Washington. He 
summoned me before the War Committee, and I had to give it 
under oath. Not only that, but I was made to give my reasons for 
the opinion, and I happened to have some to give. They were 
dated the 12th day of February, 1862, and appear in the report of 
the Committee on the Conduct of the War. 

Following is my estimate, taken from the report : — 

Ewell's Brigade, consisting of — Estimated Strength. Reported. 

5th regiment Alabama volunteers 600 

6th do. do. do 600 

6th do. Louisiana do. 600 

4 guns, Walton's battery, 12 howitzers 60 

3 companies Virginia cavalry 180 




Holmes' Brigade (reinforcements added on 20th of July, 

as reported) - Estimated Strength. 

Infantry 1,265 

6 guns 90 

1 company of cavalry 00 

2d regiment Tennessee volunteers 600 

1st Arkansas volunteers 600 



D. R. Jones' Brigade — 

5th regiment South Carolina volunteers 
15th do. Mississippi volunteers 
18th do. do. do. 
2 guns, Walton's battery, 6 pounders . 
1 company cavalry 

Early's Brigade 

7th regiment Virginia volunteers 
24th do. do. do. 

7th regiment Louisiana volunteers 
3 guns, rifled, Walton's battery . 

Longstreet's Brigade — 

1st regiment Virginia volunteers 
11 tli do. do. do. 

17 th do, do. do. 

2 guns, Walton's battery . . . 


















Jackson's Brigade (reinforcements added on 20th of 

4th regiment Virginia volunteers 

5th do. do. do. 

2d do. do. do. 

27th do. do. do 

33d do. do. do 

13th regiment Mississippi volunteers 


Part of Bee's and Bartow's Brigades, all that had arrived; 
new regiments, estimated fuller than the others — 

2 companies 11th Mississippi volunteers . 
2d regiment do. do. 

1st regiment Alabama volunteers . . . 
7th regiment Georgia do. . . . 

8tti do. do. do. . . . 





2,950 2,732 


Bonham's Brigade — Estimated Strength. Reported. 

2d regiment South Carolina volunteers ...... 600 

3d do. do. do. do. GOO 

7th do. do. do. do. 600 

8th do. do. do. do. 600 

6 guns, Shields' battery 90 

6 guns, Delkemper's battery 90 

6 companies Virginia cavalry 360 


'Cocke' s Brigade — 

18th regiment Virginia volunteers 600 

19th do. do. do. 600 

28th do. do. do. 600 

6 guns, Latham's battery 90 

1 company cavalry 60 

Reinforcements added on 20th July: 

7 companies 8th Virginia volunteers 420 

3 do. 49th do. do. 180 

2 do. cavalry 120 

4 guns, Rogers' battery 60 

■ 2,730 

Evans' Demi-Brigade: — 

4th regiment South Carolina volunteers 600 

1 battalion Louisiana volunteers 600 

4 guns, 6-pounders 60 

2 companies cavalry 120 

Added on 20th: 

Stuart's cavalry (Army of Shenandoah) 300 

2 companies Bradford cavalry 120 

8 guns (Pendleton's) reserve 120 

5 guns (Walton's) reserve 75 

6 companies Hampton's legion (arrived from Rich- 
mond) 600 


Add,also, Army of Shenandoah, not in position on the morning 

of the 21st, but came up during the day as reinforcements, 2,334 

27,399 5,438 


Ewell's Brigade 2,040 

Holmes' Brigade 2,645 

D. R. Jones' Brigade 1,890 

Early's Brigade 1,845 

Longstreet's Brigade 1,830 

Jackson's Brigade 3,600 

Bee's and Bartow's Brigade 2,950 

Bonham's Brigade 2,940 

Cocke's Brigade 2,730 

Evans' Demi-Brigade . , . , 2,595 



This is as the army was posted in the morning, including the Army of the 
Shenandoah, then in the field. 

To this is to be added the garrison of Camp Pickens, Manassas, say , . . 2,000 
Also the remainder of the Army of the Shenandoah, which 

came up during the day 2,334 

And Hill's regiment 550 

Making 2,884 

Aggregate 29,949 


Begiments and companies, by States, mentioned in Beauregard'' s report. 

Estimated. Effective 
Virginia, 1st, 2d, 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th, nth, 18th, 19th, 

24th, 27th, 28th, and 33d, being 14 regiments, 

estimated at 300 8,400 

6 companies of 8th regiment, 3 companies 49th 

regiment, and 6 companies Hampton's legion . 60 900 

23 companies cavalry 60 1,380 


Tennessee, 1st regiment (1) 600 

North Carolina, 5th, 6th, and 11th regiments (3) .... 600 1,800 

South Carolina, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th regiments (6) . 600 3,600 

Georgia, 7th and 8th regiments (2) 600 1,200 

Alabama, 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th regiments (4) 600 2,400 

Mississippi, 2d, 15th, and 18th regiments (3) 600 1,800 

2 companies of the 11th regiment 60 120 

Louisiana, 6th and 7th regiments (2) 600 1,200 

Wheat's battalion, 4 companies, and 6 companies 

of 8th regiment 60 600 

Arkansas, 1st regiment (1) 600 600 

Maryland, 1st regiment (1) 600 600 

Add 50 guns, manned by 15 men each — 

Walton's battery 16 guns. 

Pendleton's do 8 ,, 

Imboden's do 6 ,, m 

Shields' do 4 ,, 

Latham's do 4 ,, 

Alburtis' do 4 ,, 

Kemper's do 4 ,, 

Kogers' do 4 ,, 

50 guns. 15 750 


" Aggregate 25,950- 


It will be seen that, whether the estimate be taken by brigades or by regiments 
and corps from States, we come to nearly the same result, and we are warranted 
in believing the assertion of Beauregard in his official report that the whole 
number of the army at Manassas was less than 30,000 after the junction of 

Suppose the whole number of regiments to be filled up, taking the highest 
number from each State, then the whole army raised by the Confederate States, 
wherever situated, would be, on that day, as follows : — 

South Carolina, 8 regiments, at 600 4,800 

North Carolina, 11 do. 600 6,600 

Georgia 8 do. 600 4,800 

Alabama 6 do. 600 3,600 

Mississippi 18 do. 600 10,800 

Louisiana 7 do. 600 4,200 

Tennessee 1 do. 600 600 

Arkansas 1 do. 600 600 

Maryland 1 do. 600 600 

Add Virginia, 49 regiments, but we know that these are "militia num- 
bers" and it is impossible for her to have had more than all the other 
Confederate States; so we will say 20 regiments of infantry, at 600 . . 12,000 

Total infantry 48,600 

Add 20 batteries artillery, at 90 1,800 

Add 6 regiments cavalry, at 600 3,600 

Grand total 54,000 

This must have been the entire force of the Confederate Army, as we know that 
the Mississippi numbers are militia numbers, and that the North Carolina num- 
bers are also militia, because I captured the 7th North Carolina Volunteers at 
Hatteras, on the 28th of the following August, and they had been organized but a 

But it may be asked, How do we know that these were not the earlier regiments^ 
and others of much higher numbers had been raised and in service elsewhere; or 
that large reserves were not left at Manassas, and not brought up ? 

Beauregard says the whole Army of the Potomac was, on 

the morning of the 21st July 21,833 and 29 guns. 

The Army of the Shenandoah was 8,334 and 20 guns. 

Total 30,167 

Beauregard also says, in his report of the battle of Blackburn's Ford, July 18, 
Rebellion Record, Part X., page 339: — 

" On the morning of the 18th, finding that the enemy was assuming a threaten- 
ing attitude, in addition to the regiments whose positions have already been 
stated, I ordered up from Camp Pickens (Manassas), as a reserve, in rear of 
Bonham's brigade, the effective men of six companies of Kelly's Eighth Regiment 


Louisiana Volunteers, and Kirkland's Eleventh Regiment North Carolina Volun- 
teers, "which, having arrived the night before en route for Winchester, I had halted. 
in view of the existing necessities of the service.^ 

With any considerable force at "Camp Pickens' 1 (Manassas), would this regi- 
ment either have been stopped en route, or the effective men of six companies only 
ordered up as a reserve ? 

In his report of Bull Run, July 21, Beauregard also speaks of the "intrenched 
batteries at Manassas" being under the command of Colonel Terret. 

Is it possible that the rebels have been able to more than quadruple their forces 
in the last six months, with the whole world shut out from them, over what, 
they did in the first six months ? 

All which is respectfully submitted. 

Benj. F. Butler. 

February 11, 1862. 

There was understood to be some feeling between General. 
McClellan and the President because McClellan did not move, his 
excuse being all the while the small number of his troops and the 
great excess of those of the enemy. McClellan, however, held 
everything with a high, strong hand, and what he wanted he had. 
The Committee on the Conduct of the War were known to be very 
much opposed to him, as he certainly was to them. This fact is 
now known, but at that time it was only conjectured. A short 
time after it became known that I had given my testimony before 
the committee, General McClellan asked me if I had any objection 
to telling him what the substance of my testimony was. I told 
him that I had not the slightest objection. I did not know at that 
time what his testimony had been, and certainly not what his esti- 
mate was, for while in Washington I had been very busy about my 
own affairs. He appeared very much surprised at my testimony. 
He questioned me as to the source of my knowledge. I told him 
that of personal knowledge I knew nothing of course, but I sketched 
to him how I made up my calculations. He said that I must be 
wrong, that he knew that there were a great many more troops than 
that. I answered squarely: "Well, your knowledge of course 
ought to be vastly superior to the best verified calculations upon 
which I have come to my opinion." 

I handed him my analysis of the number of troops which had 
been in the battle of Bull Run, which number had been substantially 
verified- by actual reports, and then added my further calculations 
upon the same basis, and made in two different ways, to show that 



From Portrait. 


those rebel troops could not have been much more than doubled within 
the succeeding six months. My conclusion was that there were not 
more than sixty-five thousand effective troops opposite Washington. 

The rebel general, Joe Johnston, moved off his troops in March, 
just before McClellan made his movement from Washington against 
them, and Johnston's report as published in the "War Correspon- 
dence " now shows that I was not five thousand out of the way, not 
reckoning the small force that was below Alexandria. But I did not 
include the " Quaker " guns, i. e. the wooden ones, that were mounted 
in the rebel intrenchments near Centralville, and McClellan's bureau 
of information had evidently included in their estimate the number 
of men required to man these. 

I thought as we parted that General McClellan did not seem 
quite as cordial as when we met. 

When I saw Mr. Lincoln, as I did within less than two days, he 
put to me the same question as to the number of troops. I told 
him that if he would take it without asking my reasons for it I 
would be glad to tell him, but if he required me to go over the 
reasons, I must get the paper containing my calculations, or a copy 
of it. He said that was not worth while. I briefly sketched the 
reasons, and in answer to his questions I replied, in a very emphatic 
manner, that I felt as certain of my estimate within a few thousand 
as I could of anything in the world. 

"Assuming that you had one hundred thousand effective men 
in Washington," he said, "and were permitted to move over the 
river to attack, would you do it ? " 

"Certainly I would, Mr. President, and if it was of any use I 
would ask for the privilege. But you have abler commanders than 
I, Mr. President, and what I want is to go off with my command to 
New Orleans." 

"I won't say, General, whether I will let you go or not." 

I then began to plead a little and said : "Why not let me go ? 
You have got enough troops here, and I am only to have some 
regiments from Baltimore." 

"I agree with you," he answered, "as to the number of troops we 
have got here; that is not the reason for your detention." 

I at once pressed for the reason why I was not permitted to go, 
and thereupon I found that an order had been issued by General 


McClellan to disembark my troops at Fortress Monroe, and to return 
them to Baltimore. 

I immediately began to look the matter up. I telegraphed to 
Fortress Monroe, and was told that no such order had come there. 
Adjutant-General Thomas told me that such an order certainly had 
been issued and forwarded by General Dix to General Wool, at For- 
tress Monroe. I applied to General Dix, and he said that he had 
sent such an order forward. Looking farther, I found that one of 
General Dix's staff officers had put it in his coat pocket and for- 
gotten it, — a most inconceivable thing. 

I determined to bring the matter to a focus at once. I went to 
General McClellan and told him about the order and asked him to 
revoke it. 

"Why are you so anxious about this expedition? " he said to me. 

" Because I think I can do a great deal of good for the country. 
Besides, I want to get away from Washington ; I am sick of the 
intrigues and cross purposes that I find here. Mr. Lincoln and Mr. 
Stanton seem to me to be about the only persons who are in dead 
earnest for a vigorous prosecution of the war." 

"Ah," said he, "and what evidence have you of that? " 

"What both say and how they say it, — although I do not put too 
much confidence in what any man says. The President asked me 
bow many troops I believed there were on the other side of the 
river, and I gave him the number as I gave it to you." 

" What did he say to that ? " 

"He asked me how certain I felt, and I told him I felt very cer- 
tain. He asked me whether I felt so certain that I would be willing 
to lead an army of one hundred thousand troops from Washington 
to make an attack on the rebels in Virginia." 

" What did you say to that ? " 

" I said I did not desire to have anything to do with the Army of 
the Potomac ; that I wanted to get away from here, and I then 
renewed my application to him to give me my order to go to New 

" He did not give you the order ? " 

"No; he told me he did not know yet whether he would or not. 
I said 'to him in substance that I hoped he didn't detain me because 
it was a necessity to have around Washington the few troops that I 


should take away from Baltimore. He said that was not the 
reason i that regarding the number of troops opposed to us across 
the river he believed nearly as I did. He told me that I might 
call any day after to-morrow, being the 22d of February and a 
holiday. Therefore I said: 'I suppose there will be no movement 
made to-morrow.' He said: 'Well, General Butler, I think you 
had better call on me the day after to-morrow, and we will see what 
will come out of this.' " 

I looked General McClellan in the eye and said: "General, shall 
I call on you before or after I call on the President ? " 

"Better come before," said he. 

I went to my hotel, and after listening to an address in the House, 
I spent the next day in packing up my effects, not many, because I 
liad come to the conclusion that I was going somewhere. I also 
notified two of the gentlemen of my staff who came with me, and 
two more who were in Washington, that I wanted them ready to go 
with me at a day's notice. 

On the morrow I took a carriage and drove to the headquarters of 
the army shortly before ten o'clock. I was admitted to the general's 
presence, and he met me very cordially, and handed me a sealed 

"Therein," said he, "you will find your instructions about your 
expedition to New Orleans, and you may go as soon as you can get 
ready to so do." 

"I thank you very much, General," said I, " for the relief you 
have given me in letting me go away from here. I will endeavor 
by my actions to do you and the army all the credit I can." 

I called on the Secretary of War, and found the President with 
him. I stated to them the facts. Mr. Stanton was overjoyed. The 
President did not appear at all elated, but shook hands with me with 
a far-off, pensive look. 

" I shall need some funds undoubtedly, " I said to Mr. Stanton. 
"Please ascertain how much and send to me by the quartermaster 
and commissary, who will follow me and bring whatever it is sup- 
posed I will need." 

" Why not take your requisition yourself ? " 

" In the first place, I do not want any charge of the money. In 
the second place, Mr. Stanton, to be honest with you, my orders 



cannot be countermanded after I get to sea, for I am going to take 
New Orleans or you will never see me again." 

" Well, " said he in the presence of Mr. Lincoln, " you take New 
Orleans and you shall be lieutenant-general." 

I bowed and left. 

I stayed in Washington long enough to have a little bird sing to 
me that General McClellan's father-in-law and chief of staff, R. B. 
Marcy, had said : " I guess we have found a hole to bury this Yankee 
elephant in." 

The night of the 24th of February I left for Baltimore to go to 
Fortress Monroe, and at nine o'clock on the evening of the 25th 
I stood on the deck of the good steamer Mississippi with my wife 
and some of my staff officers beside me, and gave orders to " up 
anchor for Ship Island." I had sixteen hundred men on board with 
me, and the enormous sum of seventy-five dollars in gold in my 
pocket with which to pay the expenses of the expedition. 



T was my intention to call at Fort Hatteras in my steamer, 
the Mississippi, to take off General Williams, who had 
been in command there and who had been detailed to me 
as a brigadier-general, at my request. 

The sea was calm and the night beautiful, with a light 
southwest wind blowing. As we were to go around 
Cape Hatteras, a course always difficult of navigation on 
account of the trend of the eddy of the Gulf Stream toward the 
shore, I stayed on deck for some considerable time and then observed 
that the captain was below. It startled me a little. He had been 
waiting days in port, and so had no occasion to make up for any lost 
sleep, and I thought a careful and prudent man would have 
remained on deck, especially as the rebels had extinguished all the 
lights in the light-houses on that coast. I knew that the shoals from 
Cape Hatteras extended out a great distance, much farther than any 
sight in such a night would reach. 

Toward morning the wind increased, and then not far from us the 
breakers became visible. I directed the captain to be called, and he 
put us about and stood for the east. Not only that, but he stood east 
until morning, and those who wanted to see a gale at sea were fully 
satisfied. The sun, however, came out bright, and the captain took an 
observation at meridian and went into his room in the deck-house to 
calculate his position. No land was in sight. He gave his calculation 
to me, and I looked at the chart and was satisfied that, if everything 
went well with us, we should have no difficulty in weathering Cape 
Fear and Frying-Pan Shoals, which extended some thirteen miles out. 
During the night the wind lulled, and those of us who had been kept 
up the night before sought early rest and quiet. 



The captain joined me at the breakfast table, and said, as he sat 
down : " Well, General, I think I made quite a mistake yesterday 
in my observation. I am inclined to think I am twenty miles farther- 
east than the observation showed." 

" Well," I said, " that is a good mistake, because it gives Frying- 
Pan Shoals a wide berth." 

A few minutes later, and while I was still seated, I felt the vessel 
strike something and apparently pass over it, with a peculiar grating 
sound which everybody who has been at sea knows. I thought we 
must have struck a sunken wreck or a whale. The captain imme- 
diately rushed up the companion-way, and I followed him. Upon 
reaching the deck and looking around we saw land within five or six 
miles of us. Evidently we were where we ought not to be. I then 
heard the captain give the order, " Let go port anchor." " Port, 
anchor, sir." " Yes ; let go," and immediately the port anchor was 
ordered over. It struck bottom almost instantly, showing that the 
vessel was aground. The whole thing had been so easy and so? 
quiet that it substantially disturbed no one on the ship. 

I stepped into the captain's room and motioned him to follow me. 

" We are on the shoals, Captain? " 

« Yes." 

" Whereabouts ? " 

He put his thumb on the chart, a condensed chart of the whole- 
coast, covering several miles, and said : " We are here." 

" But exactly where, Captain ? " 

"I don't know." 

" But you told me this morning that you thought you were 
several miles further east than your calculation showed you to be, 
and you were far enough east by that. Now, how came you here ? " 

" I cannot tell, General." 

" Have you been on deck before this morning, Captain ? ' 

"No, sir ; I went directly from my berth to the breakfast table." 

" Do you know what is the state of the tide? " 

" I do not, General." 

" Can you find out-? " 

" I can by examining the nautical almanac." 

I stepped to the door and called one of my staff, Captain Davis*, 
and said : " Davis, we are ashore here, and I should like to know 


what is the state of the tide ; look at the nautical almanac and find 
out." Turning again to the captain of the vessel, I asked: 
" Captain, what depth of water have we under us ? " 

" I don't know." 

" Well," said I, " get your dipsy [deep sea] lead and come 
forward with me. We seem to have struck forward." 

We went forward together and met the mate, and upon sounding 
found that we were in fourteen feet of water. We were on a sand- 
bank which seemed to me to be quite a round bank just above the 
foremast. The vessel drew eighteen feet of water. 

As I went aft, three or four of the officers and some of the men 
gathered about me and said : " General, this captain is a secessionist, 
and he got us ashore here on purpose ; he is a Baltimorean." A very 
deep and savage murmur began to circulate among the men, for the 
matter seemed to have been talked over. Fearing trouble, I stepped 
to the quarter deck, called the adjutant, and ordered the best drilled 
company I had to be paraded on the quarter deck. Lieutenant Fiske, 
afterwards General, a most steadfast officer, was put in command. 
The men were instructed that they should load their muskets with 
ball cartridges. Then, turning to a squad of the men who had fol- 
lowed me aft, I said: "Men, we are in considerable peril on board 
this vessel. There must be the most perfect order, and I think we 
can get out of it. Lieutenant Fiske, fire upon any man that attempts 
to leave this vessel without orders. Adjutant, order every officer to 
put on his side arms and revolver. Orderly, hand me mine." 

The men had just scattered forward when Lieutenant Fiske came 
aft and said : " General, the water is rising very fast in the forward 
hold, which is my compartment. My men's berths are all being 

I ordered the mate aft and said to him : " What is the matter in 
the fore hold?" 

" Nothing," said he, " except that when the captain ordered the 
anchor to be let go the ship forged around on to a fluke of the anchor 
and it has gone through the side, making a hole about five inches 

"Very well," I said, "she has got water-tight compartments." I 
turned to the captain and said : " Do you know whether the valves 
that close all the water-tight compartments are in order ? n 


" No," he said, " I have never tested them." 

I turned to the mate and said : " Mate, can you tell by going 

" Oh, yes ; very easily." 

" Find out and report to me." 

While he was gone I turned to the captain and said : " I don't 
think your life is safe here, sir. The men were a good deal infuriated 
toward you even before they learned of your conduct with the anchor. 
Step into your room, sir, and don't attempt to come out of it or have 
a conference with anybody without orders. Lieutenant Fiske, put 3 
sentry at the captain's door, and don't let him out or anybody con* 
fer with him, except by my order." 

Meanwhile one of my staff came to me and said : " General, when 
I was forward among the crew I heard the sailors say that the mats 
and the engineer would take boats and get ashore." 

I at once instructed him to have good men to guard the boats, and 
let no one interfere with or touch them without my order. 

" Bring the mate and the engineer aft," said I, " and clear the quar. 
ter deck." 

The engineer and mate came aft, and I began to talk with them, 
I found the engineer very quick and prompt to answer everything 
about his engine. He said that it was in good condition ; that it 
worked until after the anchor was thrown and then stopped regularly, 
and he had no doubt that it would work now. I talked with the 
mate and found him almost a dote. He attempted to answer only a 
single question, and that we put to him theoretically about some 
ordinary matter about the ship's tackle. Beyond that he did not 
seem to know anything. 

I directed the mate to go forward and put everything in order on 
board the ship. I went into the engineer's room to have him start 
the engine and keep it running, in order to work out, by the motion 
of the propeller, the sand from under the after part of the ship. I 
asked him to take great pains to see that the engine and propeller 
worked well and regularly, which he promised to do. 

Meanwhile Captain Davis reported that we had struck about two 
hours after the change of tide, now at ebb. Then, looking at my 
situation^ I became almost overwhelmed and distracted. Here I was, 
in an iron ship of fifteen hundred tons, with a hole in her so large 


that the water rose in the forward water-tight compartments just as 
high as the water on the outside ; no officer to advise me ; the 
captain under guard ; the mate suspected, if not worse ; no one on 
board who had any more nautical knowledge than myself, and with 
me more than fifteen hundred of my soldiers, whose lives depended 
upon what I might do — because it was certain that the ship could 
not lay there an hour after the sea rose, and her position was such 
that she would break up and we should all perish. 

As I sat with my hand covering my face, I felt a light touch on 
my shoulder. I looked up and Mrs. Butler was standing beside me. 
" Cheer up," she was saying ; " do the best you can, resume your 
command, and perhaps all will be well." 

It may be thought very singular that it had never occurred to me 
that my wife was in the stateroom below. It was enough. I 
jumped to my feet and became again the general commanding. 
Almost the first thing I did was to call a sailor who seemed to be 
intelligent, and send him to the mast-head to look out for any passing 
vessel. Our masts were quite tall, as the steamer was brig-rigged. 
Then my attention was drawn to the shore. There lay Fort Macon 
within five miles of us ; horsemen were riding up and down the 
beach, artillery was being exercised, and with my glass I could see 
that we were great objects of interest to those on shore, who could 
conceive of us only as an enemy there for the purpose of attack. I 
called two of the gentlemen of my staff and told them to keep watch of 
the movements of the people on shore, not knowing that they might 
not organize a boat expedition against us if they found out our con- 
dition. I thought, however, I would discourage that idea as much 
as I could ; so I ran up the flag, and, clearing away my six-inch 
Sawyer rifle, I trained it in the direction of the fort and fired. The 
shot being the range of some three miles, I thought that would be 
sufficient information to the enemy that they had better not get 
within that distance. 

I then directed my staff and the mate to have the hatches taken 
off and the ship lightened, although to raise her to fourteen feet 
from eighteen feet seemed substantially impossible, especially with 
our forward hold full of water. 

The next thing done was to throw over from the medical stores 
all the alcohol of every kind that we had on board, except a very 


small package which was sent into the general storeroom for safe 
keeping. Details of soldiers were busy lightening the ship by throw- 
ing everything overboard to that end. 

As I came from below, after having the package of liquors stored 
away and the door locked, I had a good laugh, notwithstanding our 
situation, when I saw going overboard several packages of mosquito- 
netting with which my staff proposed to protect themselves against 
the enemy on Ship Island. 

Then came these thoughts : What is the use of trying to float the 
ship ? Who knows where the channel is by which we can get out ? 
These shoals extend some thirteen miles from the shore. There is 
a middle channel here, I know, for I passed through it when I went 
down to the Charleston convention. How shall I find the channel,, 
and how shall I mark it when I do find it? 

The men were then lightening the ship by throwing overboard 
barrels of pork and bags of grain. With the assistance of the 
mate, crew, and some of the men we started the hoops of the pork 
barrels so as to take the heads out without injury, and delivered the 
contents to the fishes. In like manner we emptied the grain over- 
board but kept the bags. After replacing the heads on the pork 
barrels and making them tight, we got some cordage and made 
gaskets around the barrels so that we could hold them. We then 
put one empty oat sack inside another and put eight-inch shells inside 
the double bags thus formed. Then with some marling stuff we tied 
the double bags very tight and secured each one to a pork barrel by a 
cord which was left thirty feet long. We got a couple of these on 
board one of the ship's boats, and Major Davis and some of my soldiers 
who could row were sent out to row around the ship and find a place 
where the water was at least eighteen feet deep and then to try to 
mark a channel, dropping our shells overboard for anchors, and so- 
anchoring our barrels for buoys at the proper spots. 

At this stage of the business we heard from aloft : " Sail ho." 

"Where away? " 

« Broad ofiV' 

One of my staff ran up to the mast-head with his glass and 
reported her as a steamer coming toward us, flying the Confederate 
flag. This, of course, was wrong , but it always looked like a Con- 
federate flag, whoever looked at it. 


Calling in one of the boats, I directed Major Bell to put himself in 
full uniform and go out and speak the steamer. If she should prove 
to be a United States vessel he was to have her come and help us, 
and he could inform us a good way off, if she were, by swinging his 
cap from the quarter deck. 

" But, General, suppose she is a ' reb ' ? " 

" Then God help you, Major." 

He raised his cap and went over the side of the vessel. 

We stopped all our efforts except to keep the pumps manned and 
work them with full details of men. Our men worked with a will. 
We kept that going until late in the afternoon, when the water began 
to come in faster than we could pump it out. Thereupon I took 
great pains to scold the soldiers whose detail could not pump the 
water out as those who did it in the morning, so that there was a 
great deal of rivalry at the pump brakes. The fact was that the tide 
had been running out in the morning and was now running in again ; 
but it was better the men should be kept busy. 

We made preparations to receive the incoming vessel, whether 
friend or foe. She came within fair gun-shot, approaching cautiously 
and slowly. Then she stopped, and with our glasses we could see 
Bell waving his cap. We then saluted her with our flag, and the 
vessel's gig came alongside with Major Bell accompanying Capt. 
O. C. Glisson, who was welcomed by me on deck. He reported that 
he was the commander of the United States steamer Mt. Vernon, and 
that he was stationed at Cape Fear River as a blockader. I then told 
him our condition. He examined it, shook his head, and said that he 
was afraid we could never get the vessel up high enough to start her, 
but he would try to see if he could pull her off. I said to Captain 
Glisson : — 

" You see I am without an officer who knows how to take charge 
of this ship. I cannot at present release the captain from his confine- 
ment and I must have an officer. Now, pray loan me one of yours." 

" I am pretty shorthanded in regard to officers," he replied. " I can 
let you have a regular officer, and will, if you prefer ; but I have a 
volunteer officer who has been for some years in command of a whaler 
from New London, Avho I think would be best for you, if you can 
have the confidence in him that I have." 

" Certainly," said I. 


" Then," said he, " I will detail Acting Master Sturgis ; " 1 and he 
came on board and navigated the vessel to Ship Island. 

Captain Glisson informed us that just ahead of us was the channel, 
"by which, if we could reach it, he could tow us down, and we could 
anchor in the lee of Cape Fear. He did his very best, but broke his 
warps and almost got his own vessel aground. 

Meanwhile the wind from the southeast rapidly increased, and the 
sea began to grow turbulent, the waves striking heavily against the 
.ship. I asked Glisson whether he could take on board the Mt. 
Vernon a portion of my troops. He said he did not know how many 
he could carry, but would try to take on as many as three hundred 
men. I had the Western Bay State Regiment of Massachusetts and 
the Fifteenth Maine Regiment commanded by Col. Neal Dow. In 
order to deal fairly Avith everybody, I took as many lucifers as there 
were companies and cut the heads off of some. Then I allowed first 
an officer of one Maine company to draw out a match, and then an 
officer of one of the Massachusetts companies, and so on until all the 
companies had drawn. Those drawing the five shortest were to be 
taken on board the Mt. Vernon. It so happened that they were five 
of the Maine companies. I turned to Colonel Dow and said : — 

" Colonel Dow, you had better go with these men on board the Mt. 
Vernon. They will be safe there." 

" And leave you here, General ? " 

" Oh, yes ; I must stay here." 

"Unless you order it, I shall do no such thing. I shall stay with 
the majority of my regiment and stand by you ; " and he did. 

Captain Glisson's boats not being many nor large, it made his crew 
a great deal of labor to transfer these men, especially as the sea 
began to roughen very considerably. When a wave struck the ship 
she groaned and quivered a good deal, and we hoped that the sand 
would settle under her and keep her up somewhat. To aid that I 
irot our men in two lines, cleared the decks as well as we could and 
then I stood on top of the house and gave orders by which the men 
at double quick were run backwards and forwards as fast as they 

Acting Master Sturgis was a seaman in every regard, capable, faithful, and of the finest judg- 
ment. I feel that I almost owe the lives of my men, my wife, and myself to him. I made him 
captain of the yort of New Orleans. When his term of service during the war was ended, I pro- 
cured his appointment as one of the officers of the revenue marine service, which position he 
filled to the entire satisfaction of the department during his life. 


could, so as to shake the ship out of the sand. We kept that going 
for a long time. At last Captain Glisson came back in his gig and 
said : — 

" General, I cannot take any more men ; they are packed in my 
ship like herrings in a box. I have come back for you and Mrs. 

" I will go down and see Mrs. Butler," said I. 

The men stood at halt. I found her in our state-room. I explained 
the situation and told her that I had come for her and her maid ; that 
I must stay and see the matter out, although I had little hope that 
the ship would live out the night ; that it certainly would not if there 
came on a blow, but my duty was with my men. 

" I cannot go and leave you here," she at first said. 

" Stop a minute, Sarah," said I. " We have three children. Is it 
best to have them lose both father and mother, when one can be 
6aved? " 

44 1 will go," she said. 

We came on deck, and with a kiss we parted. 

The sea was so uneasy that it made it difficult for the captain to 
get up to the side of the vessel, so he waited in his boat a little dis- 
tance off. When I stepped on the house the eye of every soldier was 
upon me. I hailed the boat. 

44 Captain," said I, 44 1 will be obliged to you if you will take Mrs. 
Butler and her maid. They can be of no use here. But as for me I 
shall be the last man to leave this ship." 

That decision was received by the men with very tumultuous and 
heart-spoken cheers, to which I answered : 44 Attention : double quick, 
march," and the tramp went on over the decks with renewed 

I had no heart to see Mrs. Butler leave me, and wishing to be sure 
not to give way I kept my head turned steadily forward, as she went 
on. An officer came up and spoke to me. He was the chaplain of 
a Maine regiment. I will not give his name though I ought to. 
44 General," said he, 44 if you desire, I will accompany Mrs. Butler on 
board the Mt. Vernon." 

44 Oh, no, chaplain," I said, 44 you need not trouble yourself to do 
that. Captain Glisson is a gentleman and will see that she has every 



" General, I prefer to go." 

" The devil you do ! Look here, chaplain, the government has 
trusted the bodies of fifteen hundred of its soldiers to my care, and 
their souls to your care, and if your prayers are ever going to be of 
any use it will be about now, as it looks to me. You cannot go, sir," 
and I turned away. 

Night was closing down. The high tide was approaching, and the 
vessel was more and more uneasy. We put all the sail that we could 
upon her but did not " sheet it home," that is, so set it that it would 
draw and exert any force on the ship. We got up all the steam we 
could. I went to the side of the vessel, dropped over the dipsy lead, a 
large, heavy ball of lead held fast to the bottom by its weight, and then 
■drew the cord to which it was attached up to a mark on the ship's rail. 
Then, waiting until the wind lulled a moment, I gave the order : " Sheet 
home ; jingle the engine bell." I watched with breathless anxiety 
whether, with all the means of moving we could possibly have, and 
with all the tide that we could have, the ship would move. 

The hold was full of water, and this, which we thought was our 
destruction, proved to be our salvation. The force of the sails and the 
pressure of the propeller started her ; her weight broke down the bank 
of sand on which she was resting, and she moved forward into deep 
water. All was well and we were safe, and cheers uprose from that 
vessel, the like of which I never heard before and shall never hear 

The stern of the ship was at least three feet higher than her bow, 
but we followed the Mt. Vernon to the mouth of Cape Fear River, 
and anchored. Here we lay quietly all night. 

I made a thorough examination of the ship after she was put to 
rights, and found that her engine was all right and that her forward 
bulkhead would probably hold the pressure of water if it were stayed 
and supported somewhat with braces of joists. Accordingly, I 
decided we would try to go to Port Royal, if the Mt. Vernon would 
accompany us, where we hoped to be able to repair. Suspecting our 
men would be nervous because we appeared so much out of trim, and 
thinking that it would give them much confidence and comfort if I 
brought Mrs. Butler on board again to go in our vessel to Port Royal, 
I rowed t° the Mt. Vernon. As I approached the quarter deck, 
whom should I see on her deck but my chaplain of the long flowing 


curls and Byronic collar. Hardly waiting for the exchange of proper 
courtesies with Captain Glisson, I sprang to the chaplain and said : — 

" How came yon here ? " 

" I came over last night." 

"In what?" 

" With Captain Glisson." 

" What? In the last boat with Mrs. Butler ? " 

" Yes, General." 

" Afte«r I ordered you not to ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" Go below at once and write your resignation. I will accept it, and 
don't let me ever hear of your trying to get into the army again. Go." 

I then told Captain Glisson what the man had done. He said he 
never would have brought him away from the ship if he had known 
that ; he understood that I wanted the chaplain to come. 

While this conversation was going on the chaplain came up with 
his resignation. 

" Very well, chaplain," said I, as I looked it over, "I will send 
your discharge to your post-office. Now, Captain Glisson, you can 
keep this fellow or throw him overboard, just as you choose ; I wash 
my hands of him. I haven't any more use for him, although he 
may be the Jonah that went overboard and saved the ship." 

Captain Glisson took myself and wife back in his boat, and, having 
had a belief that I should bring him back with me, I had made 
preparations that he should have the best breakfast that the Missis- 
sippi could serve — and she was pretty well provided. 1 

I I insert here another description of our adventures on Frying-Pan Shoals, written from 
Port Royal by my wife to her sister, which did not come to my eye until long afterwards : 

We were at breakfast, congratulating each other on our escape from the storm, the delightful 
weather, and the rapid speed we were making. I left the table a moment, and was in my room 
preparing to go on deck, when there came a surging, grating sound from the bottom of the vessel. 
A pause —the engine stopped— (a hush of dread throughout the ship)— it worked again — another 
heavy lurching and quivering of the ship — again the engine stopped. We were aground on 
Frying-Pan Shoals, fifteen miles from shore. The coast held by the enemy. Four or five smaF 
boats, and sixteen hundred people aboard. Dismay on every face. I asked General Butler of the 
danger. "A hundred-fold more than the storm. But there is no time for words — I must look to 
the ship." Yet for a time we were safe; the day was fine — the vessel imbedded in sand, so that 
her keel would not be stove with rocks. Brains and hands worked busily, devising and executing 
ways to get her off ; and men watched for sails at every point, for there, in truth, was almost our 
only hope. At last, one appeared in sight. Signals were hoisted. (It was proposed to hoist it 
with the union down. " Not so," said General Butler; "let the union go up.") Guns were fired 
to show our distress, though apprehensive she might prove a rebel steamer, and we be forced to 
fight in our crippled state, or yield, inglorious prisoners. She could not come directly to us, and 
hours were consumed before she could round the shoals, and feel her way slowly with the lead, 
somewhere within a mile of us. She proved a friend. It was now late in the afternoon. We ran 
on at full tide, and must wait till it returned, at seven in the evening, before we could hope to 
pull her off. A hawser was stretched to the other vessel, and the soldiers moved double quick 
fore and aft to loosen her from the sand. They labored and pulled, but failed to lift her ; the tide 
was not yet full. Two or three hundred men were already sent to the Mt. Vernon. The wind 


There was no incident on the trip to Port Royal to which I need 
pay any attention. True, we had a thunder storm with vivid 
lightning, which left the sailor's fireballs attached to the yards of the 
rigging, much to the horror of our landsman soldiers. We attracted 
great notice in the fleet, being a vessel coming with her nose appar- 
ently in the water. 

Consultation was had with the naval officers how our ship could 
possibly be repaired there, and in that consultation Captain Boutelle, 
of the Coast Survey, then in command of the little steamer ^Chancel- 
lor Bibb, gave me most effective aid. We were towed to Seabrook 
up Skull Creek, which was deep, but only wide enough to turn the 
Vessel around in. The place was a sea island cotton plantation 
which the owner's family had deserted, an excellent place in which 
to encamp our troops. It also had a small wharf to which we could 
fasten the ship. 

There we went through the great labor of unloading everything 
from the hold of the vessel, fore and aft, and as we had about 
thirteen hundred tons of coal on board when we started, that was 
no small labor. Then the difficulty was to get this water out of the 

began to rise, and the waves to swell into the heavy seas, that look so dark and wrathful. General 
Butler came to me and said : " You must make ready to go in a few minutes." Captain Glisson 
was about to return to his own vessel, and would take me with him. The general's duty would 
be to remain until every man was safe, or while the ship held together. This was clear enough, 
and I only said: "I would rather remain here if you are willing." I know not why, but I felt 
more safety where I was than in that little boat tossing below in the mad waves, or in the strange 
vessel in the distance. " Why do you think of such a thing ?" he said. "Are you mad that you 
would risk to the children the loss of both?" — "I will go," I answered, "when the captain is 
ready." General Butler went away to the pilot-house. The ship was beating heavily on the surf, 
and men's hearts beat heavier still, as the night swept toward us. The deck was crowded with 
men. Major Bell gave me his arm. There w;;,s a move — a "Make way for Mrs Butler." I was 
helped over the railing. (One man spoke out : " Well, if a woman can keep cool, it will be strange 
if we can't.") Captain Glisson preceded me down the side of the ship, and aided us as much as 
possible. The boat was tossing like a nut-shell far below, as down the unsteady ladder we slipped. 
When nearly at the bottom, the captain said: "Jump, madam — we'll catch you;" and down I 
went into the boat. " Pull, men— be lively ! " the captain called out every few minutes. A wave 
leaped up and drenched the man at the tiller; he shrank from it, but the captain urged to greater 
speed. In a quarter of an hour we were aboard the Mt. Vernon. Only two boats followed — two 
more were obliged to put back; the waves were so rough they could not make the ship. 

I sat in the cabin sick and trembling. If they could not get her off the shoals (where in a little 
while she would beat to pieces), how could those thousand men escape ? The duty of the officers 
was to take care of the men, and the highest in command must be the last to leave. The Mt. 
Vernon was too small to take them all, even if they could reach us. One would not like to 
encounter many such hours. 

The captain came often to tell me what was doing. He had sent his best officer to our ship, 
and, when the tide was full, there was a chance she might be moved. (I saw he had little hope 
she would be.) Only one ship ever escaped from those shoals that met the misfortune to ground 
there. Soon after the captain went out, there came a long shout swelling over the water— not a 
cry of distress but a shout of jov : " Hurrah ! hurrah ! she is off the shoaLs and into deep water ! " 
In two hours we were out of those dangerous waters, and safely anchored. The Mt. Vernon 
touched three times while she was aiding, but happily escaped. 

The next morning General Butler came on board to breakfast. It was decided we must keep 
on to Port Royal, a hundred and sixty miles, and there repair. Down the ship's side, and again 
on our own vessel. This time I was drawn up in a chair draped with flags. I think many were 
glad to see me back ; it looked as though we had confidence in the ship I have not yet told you 
her condition : her forward compartment filled with water, and leaking into the next— the pumps 
working continually to keep it out; the bow much deeper in the water than the stern, but the 
machinery (juite perfect. Our safety must depend on the weather. I must tell you the hole in 
the bow was made by the anchor, thrown over after we had grounded, the ship working round on 
to it. One would have thought we were fast enough without the anchor. 


forward hold. There were valves which could be opened so as to 
let the water flow through each bulkhead into the well of the vessel 
where it could be pumped out by the engine. As the vessel had 
been fitted out and loaded under the command of Captain Fulton 
whom I still held under arrest, I found it necessary to release him 
and engage his help. He was then and there investigated by a 
board of inquiry and restored to his command, Mr. Sturgis having 
gone away with Captain Glisson. We then found that the captain 
had put in no water-ways to conduct the water from the water-tight 
compartments, so that it might run through freely without spreading 
over the compartments. We further found that the lower hold had 
been filled up with coal, and in consequence, there was so much coal 
dust in the well that it would not do to pump it out lest we should 
disable the pumps, — another evidence of the captain's inefficiency. 

Therefore we rigged the pumps on the forward deck, but found 
that in spite of all we could do the water came in faster than we 
could pump it out. We tried spreading a sail over the forefoot of 
the vessel so that it might be sucked into the aperture in the hull 
and thus partially stop the leak, but that was found useless. A 
diver was sent down, and he found the hole to be in what the 
ship builders call the garboard streak, — in this case the lower iron 
plate just above the turn where the keel joined the vessel's bow, so 
that it was impossible to prevent the water coming in at the open 
space between the keel and the point where the sail would strike the 
side of the ship. The ship carpenters gave up in despair, — they 
were wooden-ship carpenters, — and my expedition to Ship Island 
and New Orleans seemed to have come to an end. 

At last, after much thought, I hit upon this device, — which I 
will describe, at the expense of a page perhaps, for the benefit of 
whoever may find himself in like situation. I sent the diver down 
again and found the size and character of the hole. I then took a 
sheet of iron such as that with which the vessel was plated, about 
sixteen inches long, twelve inches wide, and about three eighths of an 
inch thick. I had a hole put through each corner, and then had it 
cushioned on one side with oakum finely picked, and covered with a 
couple of thicknesses of the stoutest canvas. I had the cushion 
soaked with melted tallow. I then tied four light, long lines to the 
punctures at the corners and carried two of them on one side under 


the rigging and chains that fastened the bowsprit, and brought them 
under the keel of the vessel. I then hauled up on the lines on one side 
until I got the cushioned side of the plate about opposite the hole 
and a little above it, with the other lines pulling up on the other side 
of the ship, thus holding it loosely. I then sent down a diver and he 
shoved the plate over the hole and held it there for a second while we 
hauled in on both sides and made it fast where it was. Then 
we began to pump. I sent the diver down again to press the plate 
against the hole if it was in the right place. Fortunately it was, and 
then the suction of the pump held the plate there firmly. Then we 
fastened our lines so as to assist in keeping it in the same place whether 
we pumped or not. This being done, it was not a long job to pump 
out the water, for the cushion on the plate was sucked into the hole 
which had been punched inwards by the anchor, and held it sub- 
stantially tight, only a little water leaking through the broken part 
of the sheathing plate. 

I then turned the job over to the carpenters to stop up the hole 
tightly inside, as they said they could do it. We then went to work 
to get our cargo on board, as it did not leak enough to do any harm, 
and we got ready to start. Before w T e started of course we took off 
this plate because it would be very easily driven off in the seaway. 
When this was done the simple pressure of the water stove the car- 
penters' work all to pieces, and the water came in the hole apparently 
faster than ever. We replaced the plate over the hole, pumped out 
the water again, and I undertook a little job of blacksmithing. 

I had the engineers with their cold chisels cut out the little pieces 
of plate that had bent inwards, and smooth the rough hole inside 
where it had been punched in. Then I took another plate cushioned 
just like the first one and placed it on the inside. I put two jack- 
screws between the iron keelson and the sheathing of the ship over 
the hole, and then bound those screws so as to hold the cushion plate 
over the hole, as strongly as I dared to. I then put a couple of joists 
from the timbers above and wedged them in firmly so that the jack- 
screws should not work up, and I thought I had the thing reasonably 
tight. But as I was going up to camp I saw a barrel of rosin. I 
brought it down to the wharf and melted it ; built a box about two 
feet square, one side of which was the keelson and the other side 
opposite the sheathing of the vessel, the box just holding the plate 



and jack-screws in it. I then filled the box up with hot rosin, and 
when it cooled and became perfectly solid I did not believe that the 
hole would start again. I was so confident of it that I left off the 
outside plate at once, and no more water leaked in than would make 
a stream the size of a goose quill. 

And the Mississippi was run from Port Royal to Ship Island, and 
from Ship Island to New Orleans, and from New Orleans back to 

View of Island and Fleet 

Ship Island in 1861. 
Fort Massachusetts. 

View of Island from Fort. 

Boston before that hole was any further repaired, and it never gave 

Ship Island is an island of white sand thrown up by the winds- 
and waves. It is between five and six miles long, and is about ten 
miles distant from the Mississippi coast. At the upper part of it 
there is some soil on which is a growth of pine which serves at once 


for the fuel and for the timber required. This eastern end of the island 
rises to some considerable height above the waters of the Gulf. The 
western end is more flat and rises only a little -above the sea, in 
places less than two feet, and in case of any considerable sea, the 
waves wash over it. It was about 1843, if I recollect aright, a place 
of seaside resort for the people of New Orleans, many of whom 
had built cottages there and occupied them, when a storm, accom- 
panied hy rain and lightning, drove the water over the island and 
washed off substantially all the inhabitants. 

The United States, at the breaking out of the war, had partly 
finished a fort upon the island called Fort Massachusetts. 

At the time of the arrival of my troops there was not a house on 
the island. We brought some section houses to be put up for hospi- 
tal purposes and to cover stores and supplies, but we relied for 
shelter upon our tents. 

The sand of the island was of dazzling whiteness and drifted about 
in every wind storm as if it were snow. We had been told that this 
drifting sand was very dangerous to the eyes, and therefore all the 
officers and some of the men had provided themselves with blue and 
green glasses to keep the sand out of their eyes. 

I was warned that it would be impossible to maintain ourselves 
upon the island because there was no fresh water there. But I had 
learned from the experience of the British in the war of 1812, that 
they had obtained their fresh water from that island for their army. 
Furthermore, I knew that as a general rule on all flat sand beaches 
on the southern coast just raised above high tide, by digging a hole 
in the sand and putting a headless barrel into it so that the bottom 
of it would be even below tide-water, the barrel would soon be 
filled with very passable soft, fresh water, up even to the height of 
the tide, and I relied upon that means for my supply of water. 

The fact was found to be as it was stated to me. By placing 
barrels as I have indicated, a supply of water, wholesome and but 
very slightly brackish, was furnished for a considerable time. But I 
learned another fact about it ; and this was that after a few days the 
water would become impure, emitting a very perceptible and offen- 
sive odor of decaying animal matter, and then that barrel would 
have to Jbe abandoned. But it was very little trouble to put down 
another barrel in the immediate neighborhood of the first, which for 


a time would give us reasonably pure fresh water, so that difficulty 
as to the water was not serious. 

I investigated the causes of this change in the water and came to 
the conclusion that the water we drank was rain water, which had 
sunk into the sand and been prevented by capillary attraction from 
flowing into the sea. When an opening was made, it percolated 
through the sand into the barrel. But this sand itself had been 
thrown up by the sea, and while in the sea had attracted to itself the 
adhesive animalculse with which sea water is filled. Thus it con- 
tained animal matter, and this was carried into the barrels by the 
rain water, and, after a few days' exposure to the sun, it putrified,. 
destroying the water in which it was found. 

We also found upon experiment that we were entirely mistaken 
in our idea that the sand would affect our eyes, and consequently 
our provision of spectacles and glasses was a useless one. But this 
attracted my attention : We found that when the wind blew the 
sand flew with great ease and rapidity, and sprinkled everything. 
Indeed, in the storms it banked up about our tents and on our plank- 
walks, exactly as the snow would do in a northern climate. Why, 
therefore, it should not affect the eyes as the shifting sands in the 
Desert of Sahara do, as I have read, I could not understand. In my 
younger days I had been something of a microscopist, and I had 
taken my telescope and microscope, as well as other scientific instru- 
ments, when I came on the expedition. Upon examining the sand I 
found that the reason it did not affect our eyes was that every particle 
of sand that I could find was globular in form, like the larger shingle of 
the beaches, where it is rolled about and washed by the waters. Being 
globular, it had no sharp corners with which the eye might be scratched, 
and when the sand got into the eye it worked out without injury, like 
the little pebble called an " eye stone," or a flax seed, which is in some 
parts of the country used for the same purpose. 

Notwithstanding all my unfortunate delays I found that I was 
quite in season in my arrival at Ship Island. Indeed, I had to wait 
there not only for the admiral's fleet to get to the mouth of the 
Mississippi, but some fourteen days more, while the ships were being 
worked over the bar. 

When I contemplated my position at Ship Island it seemed as if 
I had an herculean task before me. In the first place, I learned 



that the fleet could not go to the mouth of the Mississippi for want of 
coal. Their boiler grates burned only anthracite coal, and no sufficient 
quantity of coal had been ordered to fill them up and supply them with 
what was necessary to go up the river to New Orleans. There, if they 
took the city, there was plenty of coal, yet it had not been taken into 
consideration that it was soft coal and could not be used under the boilers 
with any effect. A supply had been sent by the Navy Department, but 

Admiral David G. Farragut. 

From a Photograph. 

the schooners carrying it had been dispersed and nobody knew where 
they were, whether above or below the water. It would take more than 
thirty days to send up word to the Navy Department at Washington 
and get a supply of coal back. Flag-Officer Farragut, as was then 
his rank, was almost in despair at the delay. I was enabled to relieve 
him, however, because I had chartered a very large number of ships 
with a provision that they should be returned in ballast. 


Now the usual way of ballasting a ship is to fill it up with stones, 
take them to the end of the voyage, and then throw them overboard. 
But I had to return the vessels in ballast. I saw that anthracite coal 
was steadily rising in the market when our equipment was forwarded 
from Boston, and I assumed that if I ballasted all my ships with 
anthracite coal the coal would be worth more when it got back to 
Boston after having gone down to Ship Island, than it was when I 
put it on board, and so something very considerable might be saved 
to the government. I had therefore directed my quartermaster to 
buy coal enough and put it on board to ballast all the ships on their 
return voyage. 

" Well, Admiral," I said, " I guessed that somebody might want 
coal and so I brought a large quantity with me. I have twenty- 
five hundred or three thousand tons that I can let you have as 
fast as you can put it on board your ships, and I will ballast back 
■again with dry sand if I can find nothing else." 

" Why, this is almost providential," the flag-officer said. 

" Yes," I answered, " I provided it." 

" But," said he, "how can you in the army let the navy have the 
coal ? Your army regulations are against it, are they not ? " 

" I never read the army regulations," said I, " and what is more I 
sha'n't, and then I shall not know I am doing anything against them. 
If the navy uses the coal for the benefit of the government, I, as a 
lawyer, know that the government will never get the pay for it out 
of me again." 

It took days to get the coal matter settled. I may refer to this 
again, for the result of this proceeding on my part brought upon me 
great obloquy, as my accounts were not regular. 

Another trouble at the same time came upon me, which might 
have had somewhat fearful results. It was another example of the 
fact that a junior officer, except in case of dire necessity, ought never 
to interfere with the action of his senior officer without orders. What 
General Phelps did, as we shall see, was done honestly and, as far as 
he knew, properly ; but it might have entirely nullified our whole 
expedition, and possibly have turned back most men. 

I had chartered the Constitution at three thousand dollars a day. 
She could steam fifteen miles an hour, and before I left Washington I 
had sent her to Ship Island twice, once with three thousand men and 


a second time with five thousand men, with thirty head of cattle on 
her guards for fresh meat, and three months' provisions for my com- 
mand in her hold. I relied upon her to be the great transport ship of 
my expedition. On both voyages she made quick time, landing her 
troops and provisions with safety. After she had discharged the 
second time, she lay there some days, under a daily demurrage of three 
thousand dollars, waiting for me to come. But I was so baffled by 
the intrigues at Washington, and afterwards by the perils of the sea, 
that I did not get to Ship Island until the last of March, while I was 
expected there the first of February. 

After waiting some time for me to come, General Phelps thought 
it a pity that the government should be losing three thousand dollars 
a day and the boat there doing nothing. Accordingly he ordered her 
home, never once thinking how, in an emergency, he was to get away 
from there without any steamer, — for she was the only steamboat he 
had. Sometime before this he had written a proclamation freeing the 
negroes. He excused himself for sending the steamboat home on the 
ground that he was afraid that my expedition had been broken up r 
never considering, I repeat, how he and his eight thousand men were 
to get home, if it had been. He would have found himself without 
any means of transportation by steamer, if I had put my men on- 
sailing, vessels, as I had to do afterwards, for I had no steamer there 
except my little headquarters yacht, the Saxon, and the Mississippi, 
with a five-inch hole in her nose. 

This also stared me in the face : I had sent down food and neces- 
saries for a three months' stay. These were rapidly being consumed. 
I had left orders with my quartermaster and commissary that after J 
had been two months' away from Boston they should send me 
provisions for ninety days more. But before the time arrived for 
them to act, they were deprived of their commissions, their appoint- 
ments being rejected by the Senate. This was done by the influence 
and the malignity of Governor Andrew and his crew of patriots simply 
upon political grounds. Although I made requisition for a new 
quartermaster and commissary to be sent to me as soon as it could be 
done, they did not get to me until after I had been in New Orleans 
more than thirty days. 

Thus I was left without the services of a quartermaster and com- 
missary who knew anything about the details of the expedition or its 



Map of Lower Mississippi River. 


provisions. I should have had no notice of what had happened or of the 
difficulty I was in, for none was given me, had not my brother taken 
passage in a sailing vessel and come down, giving me the information. 
He had also, upon his personal responsibility, shipped provisions enough 
to carry me along, and had given notice to Mr. Stanton that provisions 
must be sent. These came in due time ; otherwise a starving army 
would have landed in a starving captured city. 

Again : I hoped to have been at the island two months earlier. I 
had brought with me more than one hundred Massachusetts mechanics 
to build boats with which to get through the bayous, lagoons, and 
morasses in the rear of Fort Jackson or St. Philip, as the case might 
be, and to construct scaling ladders with which to assault the parapets, 
rafts on which field artillery could be transported to aid us in our 
siege operations, and flats in which to transport provisions in those 
shallow waters. For I had foreseen that had we brought army wagons 
to New Orleans they would hardly have been of use, so I had but 
four or five. 

All this, if I were to support Farragut, was to be done in seven 
days. Fortunately it took him fifteen days and more to get 
over the bar at the Sou- West Pass at the mouth of the river, 
and eight days more were consumed in waiting for that superbly 
useless bombardment, which Farragut never believed in from the 
hour when it was first brought to his attention to the time when the 
last mortar was fired. 1 

But through the energy of Lieutenant Weitzel, my chief engineer, 
those accessories of the expedition were fully got ready and put on 
board ship, with a large number of fascines or fagots for filling up 

In two days after the bombardment commenced I had six thousand 
troops in the river in different sailing vessels, and I had more in the 
Great Republic, a sailing ship of three thousand tons burden, which 
could not get over the bar. The army was all ready. 

1 When Farragut was called to Washington and the naval part of the expedition was confided 
to him by Secretary Welles, Porter having a month before that gone to New York to prepare his 
mortar flotilla, the Secretary says : — 

He gave his unqualified approval of the original plan, adopted it with enthusiasm, and said 
it was the true way to get to New Orleans, and offered to run by the forts with even a less 
number of vessels than we were preparing for him, provided that number could not be supplied. 
While he woald not advise the mortar flotilla, it might be of greater benefit than he anticipated, 
might be more effective than he expected, and he readily adopted it as a part of his command, 
and he thought it would be likely to warn the enemy of our intention. 


The plan of operation against New Orleans had been agreed upon 
in a consultation between Flag-Officer Farragut, Captain Bailey of 
the navy, who afterwards led one of the divisions by the forts in the 
Cayuga, Major Strong, my chief of staff, Lieutenant Weitzel, and 
myself, Captain Porter not being present. The plan then adopted 
was substantially the one carried out, which resulted in the capture 
of the city : — 

I. Captain Porter, with his fleet of twenty-one bomb-schooners, 
should anchor below the two forts, Jackson and St. Philip, and 
continue to fire upon them until they were reduced, or until his 
ammunition was nearly exhausted. During the bombardment, 
Captain Farragut' s fleet should remain out of fire, as a reserve, 
just below the bomb- vessels. The army, or so much of it as 
transportation could be found for, should remain at the mouth of 
the river, awaiting the issue of the bombardment. If Captain Porter 
succeeded in reducing the forts, the army would ascend the river 
and garrison them. It would then be apparent, probably, what the 
next movement would be. 

II. If the bombardment did not reduce or silence the forts, then 
Captain Farragut, with his fleet of steamers, would attempt to run by 
them. If he succeeded, he proposed to clear the river of the enemy's 
fleet, cut off the forts from supplies, and push on at least far enough 
to reconnoitre the next obstruction. 

III. Captain Farragut having passed the forts, General Butler 
would at once take the troops round to the rear of Fort St. Philip, 
land them in the swamps there, and attempt to carry the fort by 
assault. The enemy had made no preparations to resist an attack 
from that quarter, supposing the swamps impassable. But Lieuten- 
ant Weitzel, while constructing the fort, had been for two years in 
the habit of duck shooting all over those swamps, and knew every 
bay and bayou of them. He assured General Butler that the landing 
of troops there would be difficult, but not impossible ; and hence this 
part of the scheme. 

Both in the formation of the plan and in its execution, the local 
knowledge and pre-eminent skill of Lieutenant Weitzel were of the 
utmost value. Few men contributed more to the reduction of the 
city than he. There were few more valuable officers in the service 
than General Weitzel, as the country well knows. 



































I— I 




IV. The forts being reduced, 
the land and naval force would 
advance toward the city in the 
manner that should then seem 

The first day's bombardment 
set fire to the wooden barracks 
and officers' quarters, which 
burned all night. Porter ceased 
firing while the burning was 
going on, supposing that the 
fort would be destroyed. But 
that fire had the same effect as 
when the enemy fired on Fort 
Sumter and set fire to the 
same class of buildings. They 
supposed that Sumter must 
surrender on account of that 
fire. But that fire, and this 
one, too, only cleared the fort 
of obstructions and obstacles. 
Of the fact that the fort had 
neither been disabled nor sur- 
rendered Porter received in- 
formation the next morning by 
a prompt and vigorous response 
to the fire of the mortars, and 
at 11.30 a rifle ball from the 
fort pierced one of his schooners 
and sunk it in twenty min- 
utes. This bombardment went 
on for six days. How little 
harm was done appears from 
the report of the Confederate 
Brigadier-General Duncan, who 
had charge of the forts, in his 
report to General Lovell of 
the Confederate army : — 


Heavy and continued bombardment all night and still progressing. 
No further casualties except two men slightly wounded. God is certainly 
protecting us. We are still cheerful, and have an abiding faith in our 
ultimate success. We are making repairs as best we can. Our barbette 
guns are still in working order. Most of them have been disabled at 
times. The health of the troops continues good. Twenty-five thousand 
thirteen-inch shells have been fired by the enemy, one thousand of which 
fell in the fort. They must soon exhaust themselves ; if not, we can 
stand it as long as they can. 

Duncan evidently made this report to show his men's courage and 
stimulate the hopes of the people in New Orleans. It is a very good 
specimen of the kind of report that is sent out by some commanding 
officers for people to read. Not twenty-five thousand shells were 
thrown altogether, but five thousand only. Not one thousand struck 
inside the fort, but only three hundred during the whole bombard- 
ment, and at the time of Duncan's report the last day's firing had 
not been counted. 

Duncan's report reads exactly like some of the magazine war 
articles written by our officers who wish to establish reputations for 
bravery and endurance, but are somewhat economical of truth. As 
Duncan was educated at West Point he was taught in the same way 
as were these officers who write magazine articles and war books. 

There had been two days' bombardment, when consideration had to 
be given to another defence of the rebels, — a chain cable across the 
river. This barrier had at first been made of logs fastened by 
shackles end to end, so as to float upon the surface. It had been 
thrown across the river in the early spring, the chain of logs being 
within point blank fire of Fort Jackson and the other end on the 
bank near Fort St. Philip. This barrier had been found imprac- 
ticable, because the floating timber and brush caught on the chain, and 
the pressure of the water soon parted it, the river being very high 
and the current swift. That made a resort to some other expedient 
necessary. Several schooners were anchored thirty yards apart in a 
line extending across the river. Heavy chains — which had been 
taken from Pensacola and Norfolk Navy Yards — were securely 
fastened together in a long cable. One end of this having been 
made fast on shore, the chain was carried across the schooners from 
one to another, being affixed to the foremast of each one, and so on 



across the river, where the chain was as securely fastened on the other 
shore. This chain allowed the driftwood floating down the river to 
run through between the schooners without doing any damage. 

The question was, how shall the chain be gotten rid of ? By this 
time the naval men, and especially Farragut, had come to the con- 
clusion that Porter would exhaust his shells a long time before he 
would substantially damage the forts, and therefore, upon consulta- 
tion, the plan of a night attack, before arranged, was agreed upon. 

Diagram of Fort Jackson. 

The plan was that the fleet should start nearer midnight than dawn, 
and should advance in two columns or divisions. If the ships passed 
the forts, the troops were to go out upon the Gulf side and work up 
the Maumeel Canal in boats, and then, when we had a sufficient force 
there, we were to assault Fort St. Philip from the rear, and the fleet 
was to assist us from the river. 

There had been a wonderful omission by the rebels of any prepara- 
tion of defence for Fort St. Philip in the rear ; they had mounted no 
guns to cover the side towards the Gulf. True, it was for several 


miles a marsh covered with water and short shrubbery, but still, troops 
who were in earnest could get through it, as Lieutenant Weitzel in- 
formed us. Under the cover of night, in a boat from the Saxon, I 
sent Captain Everett, of my Massachusetts battery, to reconnoitre in 
the rear of St. Philip from one of the many little bayous [guts] which 
run out from the river into the Gulf. The first night he went in he 
explored enough to find that he could get anywhere he wanted to in 
the rear of the fort without being noticed. The next night he took 
a slightly heavier boat and some men, and went behind Fort St. 
Philip again. He ascertained that there were no guns mounted which 
would prevent our boats coming up the Maumeel Canal, and the only 
possible difficulty that he noted was the lack of depth of water in the 
upper canal to float a heavy launch. 

The third night after the burning of the buildings in the fort, 
Captain Bell was detached with the Pinola and Itasca. The Pinola 
was to blow up, by means of torpedoes fired by electricity, one of the 
hulks which floated the chain, while the Itasca was to board the next 
schooner, cut the chain and also the cable by which the schooner 
was anchored, and let the hulk swing round by the force of the 
current, to be held by the schooner anchored next to it. This 
would leave a passage of about one hundred and eighty feet, if 
both were successful. 

There was a great rush of water driven down the river by the 
wind, and although a petard was thrown upon the deck of the hulk, 
yet her engine being stopped, the Pinola was swept away so quickly 
as to break the electric connection, so that the petard was not exploded. 

In the meantime, the Itasca had laid herself alongside the next 
schooner near the middle of the river, and had made fast thereto. At 
that moment, she was discovered. Both forts opened fire upon her, but 
the darkness and smoke so covered her that the men worked in per- 
fect safety. The chain was cut with sledge and chisel and the cable 
that held the hulk was slipped. Instantly the Itasca and the 
schooner were carried down by the wind and tide, taking the end of 
the chain with them and swinging around to the eastern shore under 
the fire of both forts. Here the Itasca grounded hard and fast by the 
bow. The Pinola, however, came to her rescue, and after an hour's 
tugging, started her, and both boats came down in triumph without 
a scratch. 


Immediately after, an immense fire-raft was sent down by the 
enemy. Perhaps a word to describe that contrivance of war would 
not be wasted. This fire-raft was an immense flat boat such as 
was used for bringing coal down the Mississippi. It was about 
two hundred feet long, forty feet wide, and six feet deep. It 
was filled, from stem to stern, full of light wood and cotton, well 
saturated with pitch and turpentine, the wood being packed cob- 
house fashion, so as to burn easily and freely under the strong 
wind. The raft came through the opening in the chain, passed 
the Hartford within fifty feet, scorching the men on deck, just 
grazed the Scioto, and went on its way to the lower division of the 
fleet. Here the mortar men in their boats grappled it, towed it to 
the shore, and made it fast. 

Four days' bombardment had passed. Four thousand shells had 
been used, costing the government fifty dollars for each shell, irre- 
spective of the expense of exploding them as fireworks. Still there 
was no sensible diminution of the fire of the forts. 

Farragut had at first determined to make his attempt to run past 
the forts on the early morning of the 23d, the sixth day of the bom- 
bardment, but was delayed. The fire of the mortars on the sixth day 
was slow ; the forts answered not a gun. The men at mast-head, with 
their glasses, descried twelve rebel steamers around the bend above 
the forts. The day was spent on both sides in getting ready. By an 
accident two of our gunboats had been partially disabled, requiring 
great efforts to put them in trim, which was finally done. The chain 
cables of the gunboats and ships were fastened in festoons up and 
down the sides of the vessels on both sides, so as to protect the 
engines and boilers. 

On the evening of the 23d, arrangements were made for the 
fleet in five divisions to take part in running by the forts. The 
mortar boats were to remain in position, and aid the attack with 
the quickest fire possible. How quick that fire was, I had personal 
inspection. Following Farragut's division up to the forts in my 
headquarters boat as he went by, I came within six hundred yards, 
and saw eleven mortar shells, their fuses burning, in the air at 
the same time. 

The sixr small steamers belonging to the mortar fleet, Porter com- 
manding, — the Harriet Lane, Westfield, Owasca, Clifton, Miami, 


and Jackson, the last named towing the sloop of war Portsmouth, — 
were to engage the water battery below Fort Jackson, but were not 
to attempt to pass the forts. 

The Hartford, Richmond, and Brooklyn, Farragut commanding, 
were to advance upon Fort Jackson. 

The Cayuga, Pensacola, Mississippi, Oneida, Varuna, Katahdin, 
Kineo, and Wissahickon, Capt. Theodoras Bailey commanding, were 
to proceed along the eastern bank and attack Fort St. Philip as they 

Captain Bell, commanding the third division, which consisted of 
the Scioto, Iroquois, Pinola, Winona, Itasca, and Kennebec, was to 
advance in the middle of the river and push on to attack the enemy's 
fleet above the forts. 

The night was still, and a light breeze up river brought with it a 
haze, which clung to the water. 

At two o'clock, a red light was run up the Hartford's mast-head, 
the signal to weigh anchor and advance. From the starting-point to 
a point in the river above the range of the guns of the forts the dis- 
tance was five miles. The current was a strong three-mile current, and 
the order was not to attempt to advance faster than four miles an hour. 
My headquarters boat, the Saxon, took position in the line of advance 
immediately behind Farragut's division. 

Lieutenant Weitzel, at Farragut's request, had stated to the 
assembled commanders the condition and formation of the forts. 
He said they both were very low down, especially Fort St. Philip, 
and that the gunners of all the batteries had been for days firing the 
guns at a very high elevation to reach the fleet below, and probably 
would retain them in that position. Therefore he advised that the 
guns of the fleet be fired very low down, or they would fire over the 
forts. He also suggested that if both divisions, as they passed 
the forts, were to go by within fifty yards of them, the guns of the 
forts would probably fire over them, while they, with grape and 
canister, would drive every rebel from his guns. 

The moment Farragut's guns opened fire, the smoke settling* 
down made it impossible to see anything one hundred yards 
away, except the bright flashes, or hear anything save the con- 
tinuous roar of cannon of heaviest calibre. It is vain to attempt 
to give a description of the appalling scene. The best one I ever 



heard was given by my staff officer, Major Bell, in answer to a 
lady who asked him to describe it. He said: "Imagine all the 
earthquakes in the world, and all the thunder and lightning storms 
together, in a space of two miles, all going off at once ; that would 
be like it, madam." 

Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Five Views. 

It is needless to tell of individual gallantry and courage where all 
did so well, but I may say that the Hartford bore the brunt of the 
battle. The gallant Farragut stood in the fore-rigging with his 
glass in his hand. He was under the fire of both forts at the same 
time. The rebel ram pushed a fire-raft against his ship's side, setting 


her on fire fore and aft. Even then he did not call away his gun- 
ners from the guns, but ordered his fire-brigade to attend to the 
flames. Attacked by one of the enemy's gunboats, he set out to 
destroy her with a single broadside. Receiving all the time the 
fire of the enemy and giving them broadside after broadside, while at 
the same time pushed ashore by the fire-raft and struggling to get his 
vessel off in the darkness, not even knowing where he was, made a 
cluster of dangers and exigencies, at once difficult and terrible, 
sufficient to tax the greatest energy, courage, quickness of perception, 
and coolness of thought and judgment of any man in any war before 
or since. 

Meantime our fleet destroyed and sunk all of the enemy's vessels, 
including the ram Manassas. One boat we lost, the Varuna, which 
was pierced by the ram. She sunk, but not until Captain Boggs 
had tied her to a tree. 

Reaching quarantine, above the forts, Captain Bailey of the 
Cayuga captured the rebel regiment which had been stationed there 
to prevent my landing. All that had not run away surrendered, 
and, as Farragut said, « I paroled them, for I determined to hasten 
on and could not take them along, and so left them to the tender 
mercies of General Butler." 

Of all this, we below the forts knew nothing. Even the Kenne- 
bec, which had got afoul of the cable and had returned, and the 
Itasca, which had got a shot in her boiler and came back, could 
give us no information. But as the sun rose up in the heavens 
in the clear calm of a beautiful April morning, Farragut flashed 
back the signal of his triumph and victory by covering his entire 
fleet with flags and signals, as in the celebration of a gala day. 
That told the story. 

My boat being partially disabled by accident, I went on board the 
Harriet Lane. She was firing away at the sinking ram Manassas 
that came floating down, but was already riddled and burning, so 
that the ammunition so spent was wasted. Here I borrowed of 
Porter the Miami. She hacl been a New York ferry-boat, and 
answered my purpose very well, for I wanted a boat to carry as many 
troops as possible. Then I started down the river. 

With my glass I could see the rebel ram Louisiana lying at a 
point just above and at the side of Fort St. Philip. She had not 


moved from the place in which she had anchored after coming down 
from New Orleans a day or two before. Two steamers near her 
seemed to be her tenders. Before the Miami got ready, the mortar 
fleet started down the river to the passes. 

The Miami was slow, besides steering very wildly. When I got 
to the head of the passes, that is, where the Southwest Pass, 
the South Pass, and Pass a 1' Outre, to the easterly, form several 
means of passage from the river to the Gulf, all my troops and 
steamers, under the personal command of General Williams, went 
up to the rear of Fort St. Philip, and I made my headquarters on 
Sable Island. 

I was delayed twenty-four hours by the Miami running aground, 
and I was much in need of light draft steamers, for which I had 
made requisition on the quartermaster-general on the 24th of 
February. That requisition had never been answered, and, in 
fact, I never received any assistance from that department, by 
its sending me anything, from the 24th of February to the 8th 
of May. I was enabled at last to disembark my troops and form 
a column of yawl boats in which they were conveyed up the 
Maumeel Canal as far as we could go. Then we left the boats 
and waded for miles up the levee near the quarantine station, for 
the purpose of attacking Fort St. Philip in the rear. To get there 
I myself waded in the water above my hips for nearly two miles — 
which was not unsafe but unpleasant. Here, Captain Smith, of 
the naval vessel Mississippi, which had been detained by Farragut 
to hold that station, kindly conveyed a detachment of my soldiers 
across the river, where we established ourselves by entrenchment 
across the levee. 

To understand the purpose of this movement, it should be told 
that the only way to get up the river by land on either side was 
to go up its bank close to the water's edge. Here frequently there 
was no passable ground more than sufficient for a carriage road. 
So that when I had taken possession of the west bank of the river 
there was no earthly hope that the troops in the forts could get to 
New Orleans. 

On April 27, the majority of the garrison of Fort Jackson 
mutinied • against their officers, either spiked the field-pieces or 
turned them against their officers, and deserted and came up five 


miles and surrendered themselves to my pickets. The day after- 
wards the officers surrendered the forts, having substantially no 
garrison, to Captain Porter, most of whose vessels were twenty-five 
miles below. 1 

While they were making terms for capitulation in the cabin of 
Porter's vessel, the naval officer in charge of the rebel ram Louisiana 
let her loose and set her on fire, and she floated down and blew up 
quite near the Harriet Lane. This was the ram that Porter was so 

1 There have been three contested questions of fact, on which the officers of the army and 
Porter, on behalf of the navy, have differed : 

The first is that the forts were surrendered solely because the bombardment had made of them 
such perfect wrecks as to be no longer defensible. He so reported to the Secretary of the Navy 
on the 30th day of April. That 1,800 of his mortar shells had fallen within it he reported to the 
Secretary of the Navy, June 10. 

Second, —that the surrender was wholly on account of the bombardment. 

Third, — that he remained with his mortar fleet from the time of Farragut's passage on April 
24, until April 30, the day of the surrender, and did not go down the river. 

A part of these questions have been heretofore discussed ; but we have now, from consulta- 
tion of the War Records, the testimony of the enemy. Brigadier-General Duncan says (War 
Records, Series 1, Vol. VI., pp. 529-532): — 

The demand was rejected, and the bombardment was reopened about 12 m. It continued until 
near sundown, when it ceased altogether. The entire mortar fleet and all the other vessels, 
except six gunboats, then got under way, and passed down the river and out of sight, under full 
steam and sail. . . . 

So far, throughout the entire bombardment and final action, the spirit of the troops was 
cheerful, confident, and courageous. ... A reaction set in among them during the lull of the 
25th, 26th, and 27th, when there was no other excitement to arouse them than the fatigue duty of 
repairing our damages. . . . They were still obedient, but not buoyant and cheerful. In conse- 
quence, I endeavored to revive their courage and patriotism by publishing an order to both 
garrisons ... 

I regret to state that it did not produce the desired effect. Everything remained quiet, how- 
ever, until midnight, when the garrison of Fort Jackson revolted in mass ; seized upon guard and 
posterns; reversed the field-pieces commanding the gates, and commenced to spike the guns, 
while many of the men were leaving the fort in the meantime under arms. All this occurred as 
suddenly as it was unexpected. The men were mostly drawn up under arms and positively 
refused to fight any longer. . . . 

Every endeavor was made by the officers to repress the revolt and to bring the men to reason 
and order, but without avail. Officers upon the ramparts were fired upon by the mutineers in 
attempting to put a stop to the spiking of the guns. . . . 

In the meantime we were totally ignorant of the condition of affairs at Fort St. Philip ; and as 
all our small boats had been carried away by the mutineers, we could not communicate with that 
fort until the next morning. . . . 

With the enemy above us and below us, it will be apparent at once to anyone at all familiar 
with the surrounding country that there was no chance of destroying the public property, blow- 
ing up the forts, and escaping with the remaining troops. Under all these humiliating circum- 
stances there seemed to be but one course open to us, viz. : to await the approach of daylight, 
communicate then with the gunboats of the mortar flotilla below under a flag of truce, and 
negotiate for a surrender under the terms offered us by Commander Porter on the 26th instant, 
and which had previously been declined. . . . 

For these reasons a flag of truce was sent down to communicate with the enemy below and 
to carry a written offer of surrender under the terms offered on the 26th instant. 

Thus it appears that the besieged were obliged to send a flag of truce down to Porter to get 
him to come up and take the surrender. 

As to the condition of the forts because of the bombardment, we have the testimony of 
Lieutenant Weitzel, who was sent to make an official report for the purpose of putting them in 
repair ; we have the report of Captain Palfrey, assistant engineer, who was in charge of the 
repairs ; of Colonel Hazeltine, and of General Dow, who certifies that the worst thing that 
had happened to the forts was the " extreme slovenliness " by which they had been occupied by 
the enemy. 


afraid of. Before this she had never moved a foot from Fort St. 
Philip, having no motive power. When reproached by Porter for 
this act of perfidy, the Confederate officers replied that they were army 
officers surrendering the forts ; that they had no control over the 
naval officers. 

As soon as the forts surrendered, I ordered General Phelps to get 
his ships towed up by Porter's mortar fleet, and take possession of 
the forts. This was done, since Porter was no longer afraid to have 
his mortar boats come up the river, the " lively ram " having been 

On the 27th, after the garrisons of the forts were captured at my 
pickets, I went on board the Wissahickon, Captain Smith, which 
was at quarantine, and joined Farragut at New Orleans, to consult 
with him as to - the next move to be made. 

Meantime Farragut had gone up the river, engaged the rebel 
battery at English Turn, and routed them with a broadside, and also 
the battery at Chalmette, being the fortified line that Jackson 
defended against Pakenham when he appeared before the city. All 
the rebel troops under Lovell ran away across Lake Pontchartrain, 
and very many citizens took steamers and went up the river to 
Alexandria and elsewhere, having burned and destroyed immense 
quantities of cotton, sugar, rosin, tobacco, and coal. 

Lovell and Twigg having run away, Farragut called upon the 
city government to surrender and to hoist the United States flag in 
token thereof on the United States public buildings. This the 
mayor declined to do, making the excuse that he was not a military 
officer. Farragut then sent Captain Bailey and Lieutenant Perkins 
ashore with a party of marines and hoisted the United States flag 
over the United States mint, but did not leave it guarded except 
that he had howitzers in the main-top of the Hartford which bore 
upon it. 

On the day before I got up to New Orleans a party of ruffians, 
headed by one Mumford, pulled down Farragut's flag, trailed it on 
the ground through the streets, tore it in pieces and distributed the 
pieces among the mob for keepsakes, their leader wearing a piece of 
it in the buttonhole of his coat as a boutonniere. 

As we neared the city the next day the morning papers were 
brought to me on board the Wissahickon containing a description of 


this performance with high encomiums upon the bravery and 
gallantry of the man who did it. After having read the article, I 
handed the paper to Captain Smith and said : "I will hang that 
fellow whenever I catch him," and in such matters I always keep my 

I think a proper ending for this chapter, for the purpose of show- 
ing exactly how untruthfully and villanously Capt. David D. Porter 
behaved through this whole transaction of the capture and surrender 
of the forts, will be an extract from my official report written to the 
Secretary of War on the 1st day of June, the truth of no word of 
which for twenty-eight years was ever disputed, and then only by 
Porter in an interview in a newspaper, the authenticity of which he 
afterwards denied, and after I had put it before him as a statement 
of fact he never replied to it : — 

I have read Commander Porter's official report of the surrender of the 
forts; and here permit me, for the sake of my brave and enduring 
soldiers of the Twenty-Sixth Massachusetts and Fourth Wisconsin regiments, 
who waded in the swamps in the rear of Fort St. Philip up to their arm- 
pits in water in order to cut off its garrison and get ready to assault the 
enemy's works, to put the truth of history right before the War Depart- 
ment and the country by the simple enumeration of the facts that it was 
due to their efforts and that of their comrades, and to those alone, that 
Forts Jackson and St. Philip surrendered when they did. No naval 
vessel or one of the mortar fleet had fired a shot at the forts for three 
days before the surrender, and not one of the mortar boats was within 
twenty-five miles at that time, they having sailed out of the river from 
prudent consideration of the prowess of the ram Louisiana, which was 
supposed to be " lively " near the forts. A majority of the garrison of 
Fort Jackson had surrendered to my pickets the night before the officers 
made a surrender to Commodore Porter and obtained from him better 
terms than has been or ought to be given during the war to a 
rebel officer or soldier, and under those terms the rebel General Duncan 
claims a right to be and is in the army of Beauregard, giving " aid and 
comfort," and only holding himself " not to serve in arms," which are the 
terms of his parole. I send a copy of the terms of capitulation. I do 
not wish to take from the well-earned and well-deserved consideration 
due to the navy for their brilliant exploit in running past Forts St. 
Philip and Jackson. I have borne and shall ever bear testimony to their 


courage and gallantry on that occasion, but after that no shot was fired 
until the surrender, and the forts could have been held for weeks, if not 
months, so far as the bombardment was concerned, for in the judgment of 
the best engineering skill they were then as defensible as before the bom- 
bardment. I will not permit too great meed of praise on the part of 
anybody to take away the merit fairly due my brave soldiers, who endured 
so much hardship and showed as much bravery as the most gallant tar 
of them all, for we landed within five miles above the forts and " lively 
ram," protected by only two gunboats, while the mortar boats, protected 
by seven gunboats, retreated twenty-five miles below the forts and out of 
the river. 





N the morning of the first day of May, having determined 
to disembark my troops, or as many of them as had 
then arrived, and take possession of the city at sundown, 
I issued the following order : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, May 1, 1862. 
General Order No. 15. 

I. In anticipation of the immediate disembarkation of the troops of 
this command amid the temptations and inducements of a large city, all 
plundering of private property, by any person or persons, is hereby for- 
bidden, under the severest penalties. . 

II. No officer or soldier will absent himself from his station without 
arms or alone, under any pretext whatever. 

III. The commanders of regiments and companies will be held respon- 
sible for the strict execution of these orders, and that the offenders are 
brought to punishment. 

By command of 

Major-Gene ral Butler. 
George C. Strong, A. A. General. 

It may be asked why we waited until near sundown. When 
troops are taking possession of a city where there is possibility of 
assault by a mob, it is always best that it should be done in the 
dark. The general then always knows where his troops are, and 
how many of them there are, while the mob can have no concerted 
action, and are not able to organize any in the dark. If your 
column is fired upon from houses, the flash will show every window 
from which the missiles come, and those windows can instantly be 




filled with returning bullets. Furthermore, the column, unless it 
is too long, can be protected in the street better in the dark than in 

None of my troops up to this time had ever received or given a 
hostile shot, and I thought it would give them more confidence if I 
should lead the column, as I did at Baltimore. But this time I 
went on foot, as I had no horses. 

We marched without opposition to the Custom House, an im- 
mense granite building covering some acres and making a complete 
citadel. Having disposed of my troops, I returned to the St. 
Charles Hotel with one company of the Thirty-First Massachusetts 
as a headquarters guard. My officers having taken possession of 
the hotel, I returned to the steamer Mississippi, brought Mrs. 
Butler on shore, and took her to the hotel in a carriage. 

The hotel keeper informed my adjutant-general, Major Strong, 
that he was afraid to have us come there lest some of the waiters 
should poison our food. Strong observed in his hearing : " Well, 
General, if we are poisoned, the one who survives the longest will 
have a lively recollection of him who keeps this hotel." 

After breakfast I sent a staff officer to the mayor of the city, ask- 
ing that he and the representatives of the city government call upon 
me at the hotel. The mayor at first said: "No; tell General Butler 
if he wants to see the city government he will call upon them." 
The officer said to him kindly but significantly : "You had better not 
have me deliver that message to General Butler, for if you do I 
shall have to bring you to him in a way that may be unpleasant." 

The city was untamed. The mayor came down to the hotel 
about two o'clock, and was received by me in the ladies' parlor, 
which was in a corner of the building on the first floor. It was a 
large room and looked^ out upon a balcony. Both streets, St. 
Charles and Common, were packed with a very clamorous and 
obstreperous mob. They did not seem to be the canaille. They 
interrupted our consultation by their noise very considerably. Lieu- 
tenant Kinsman came in and reported that a Union man, Mr. 
Somers, who had once been recorder of the city, and who had taken 
refuge on board the Mississippi, had just been brought off to the 
hotel. I directed that he should be taken down to the Custom 
House for safety. As he was well known to the mob, I thought it 



was dangerous for him to have to go through the mob without a 
strong force, and I directed Lieutenant Kinsman to take my head- 
quarters guard at the St. Charles down to the Custom House with 
him. The appearance of Somers, guarded, raised the greatest 
confusion, and we had to wait in our conference, looking out the 
window at the scene, while the little bunch of troops, gallantly led 
by Lieutenant Kinsman, took Somers through the crowd. Then the 
mob gathered about the hotel again, and resumed its shouting and 
offensive noises. At that moment Captain De Kay crowded through 
the mob into the hotel. His uniform was almost torn off him. 

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans. 

Touching his cap, he said: " General Williams' compliments, and 
he bids me say to the general commanding that the mob is getting 
unruly, and asks for orders as to what shall be done with them." 

"Give my compliments to General Williams, " I answered quietly, 
" and tell him to clear the streets at once with his artillery.' , 

The captain left with the message. The members of the city 
government all sprang to their feet, crying: " Don't, General; 
don't give such an order as that." 

4 Why this emotion, gentlemen ? " I said. 4 ' The cannon are 
not going to shoot our way, and I have borne this noise and confu- 
sion as long as I choose to." 


'Wait a while, General, wait a while, '* they said, "and we will 
go out and speak to the people and advise them to go away, and they 
will disperse." 

"Very well," I said, "so they do disperse, I do not care as to the 
means ; go out and try your hand at it. ' ' 

And so the mayor made them a speech from the balcony, but 
they jeered him to his face. Then another spoke, and they chaffed 
him, calling him all sorts of abusive names, and the speech-making 
rather increased the uproar. 

I stood, a little withdrawn from the window, looking across the 
street, and I saw a man on the sidewalk having a piece of a United 
States flag in his button-hole. I inquired who he was and was 
answered that that was Mumford who had torn down the flag, and 
that it was a piece of it he wore in his button-hole. I told my 
orderly, who was standing near me, to take a look at the man so that 
he would know him if he saw him again. 

Then the mob raised the cry: "Where's old Butler? Let him 
show himself; let him come out here if he dare." The cry was 
echoed around for a moment: " Where's old Butler 9 " 

I thought it my privilege to answer that call. I stepped forward 
on the balcony in full sight, with my cap in my hand, and looking 
on the crowd, as unmoved as possible, said: "Who calls me? I am 
here." That answer brought a hush, and just at that time a won- 
derful noise directed my attention up St. Charles Street. The cause 
of it was in a moment apparent. The Sixth Maine battery, a finely 
equipped artillery company with six Napoleons, under Captain 
Thompson, had been encamped in Tivoli Circle. St. Charles Street, 
down which the battery was coming, was at that time paved with 
foot square granite blocks, which were in a very uneven condition. 
Thompson was one of the most dare-devil furious riders I ever saw, 
and he was leading his battery down the street as if there were 
nobody in it, every horse driven at the fullest speed and the bugles 
sounding the charge. No one who has not seen such a charge can 
imagine the terrible noise and clamor it makes, the cannoneers cling- 
ing to their seats, and the wheels of the guns bounding up inches as 
they thunder over the uneven stones. As I said, the mob was 
hushed. t They turned their eyes on the approaching avalanche and 
then sought safety in flight. By the time Captain Thompson saluted 


as he went by, the whole street was cleared; and when he came 
"into battery" at the corner, with three guns to clear each street, 
the scene was as quiet as a children's playground. 

From that hour to the time I left New Orleans I never saw 
occasion to move man or horse because of a mob in the streets of 
the city. 

By arrangement our conference was adjourned until evening, 
when I could read my proclamation to the city officials. I had a 
little difficulty in getting it printed. I had it ready early the evening 
before, that it might come out in the morning papers. I sent it to 
the office of the True Delta by a couple of staff officers, and they 
were told by those in charge that it could not be printed without the 
order of the proprietor, who was absent. The next morning at eight 
o'clock, the officers appeared at the office and saw the proprietor. 
He said that he could not permit it to be printed, even as a hand- 
bill. They bowed and retired, and in a short time returned with a 
squad of men who took possession of the office, "stacked arms," 
took off their coats, and went to work at the cases and press, and in 
a very short time had printed as many copies of the proclamation as 
were wanted. While they were doing that, the following order was 
issued : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, May 2, 1862. 
General Order No. 17. 

The proprietors of the New Orleans True Delta having refused to 
print the proclamation of the major-general commanding in this depart- 
ment, the publication of that paper is suspended until further orders. 

By command of 

Major-General Butler. 
George C. Strong, A. A. General. 

This brought the proprietor to headquarters with a very proper and 
humble apology, and the order of suspension was revoked. 

There were several attempts on the part of the people not to have 
any intercourse with our soldiers, nor to trade with them. One of the 
privates went into a shoe store to buy a pair of shoes and asked the 
price. They were three dollars. He offered the gold for them and 


the man replied that he would not sell shoes to a d — d Yankee. 
The next day the provost marshal put a red flag over the shoe store 
door and sold its contents at auction. That shopkeeper's experi- 
ment was not a happy one. But very soon there was no uncivil 
treatment received hj our soldiers except from the upper class of 

But to return to our meeting. I read my proclamation to the 
city officials. Pierre Soule, late United States senator and minister 
to Spain, was put forth as their spokesman. Mr. Soule* did not 
complain of the proclamation except so far as it foreshadowed 
the occupation of the city. He said that he knew the temper 
of the people, and their gallant courage, and they never would 
submit to it, and I should be putting myself and command in 
great danger if I did not remove my troops from the city. I replied 
to him in substance that I was surprised to hear threats made 
in that conference. I had heard them all my life by Southern 
men in political conventions, but here they were out of place. He 
replied to me that he had always looked upon me as a friend of 
Southern rights. To that I answered: "You do rightly. lama 
friend to Southern rights now, but I came here to put down Southern 
wrongs." I then stated to the officials that I desired to go about my 
work in the field, and should be glad to have the co-operation of 
the city government in carrying on the government of the city so 
that I should not have to occupy my time with such details ; that 
if they would pledge me their honor that nothing should be done to 
aid the Confederacy, and if the city government would occupy 
itself with attempting to relieve the sufferings of the people of the 
city, I should be glad to have them take charge of its government, 
especially as I knew the people were starving for supplies that could 
not be got from any known source. I further stated to Mr. Soule : 
"I learn that we have captured a thousand barrels of Alexandria 
beef. I will turn that over to the city government to be fed out 
to the people. I will also give safe conduct to a steamboat to 
bring from Mobile, and elsewhere, the flour and provisions you have 
already purchased there [flour was then sixty odd dollars a barrel 
in the city], provided there shall be nothing come out of this 
which shall aid the Confederacy, and that the members of the 
city government give me their solemn assurance that this will 


be their course of conduct." That being agreed to the}' left, with 
the understanding that I should not interrupt the business of the 
city government. 

The following is a copy of my proclamation : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, May 1, 1862. 

The city of New Orleans and its environs, with all its interior and 
exterior defences, having been surrendered to the combined naval and 
land forces of the United States, and having been evacuated by the rebel 
forces in whose possession they lately were, and being now in occupation 
of the forces of the United States, who have come to restore order, main- 
tain public tranquility, enforce peace and quiet under the laws and Con- 
stitution of the United States, the major-general commanding the forces 
of the United States in the Department of the Gulf, hereby makes known 
and proclaims the object and purposes of the Government of the United 
States in thus taking possession of the city of New Orleans and the 
State of Louisiana, and the rules and regulations by which the laws of 
the United States will be, for the present and during a state of war, 
enforced and maintained, for the plain guidance of all good citizens of the 
United States, as well as others who may heretofore have been in rebellion 
against their authority. 

Thrice before has the city of New Orleans been rescued from the hand 
of a foreign government, and still more calamitous domestic insurrection, 1 
by the money and arms of the United States. It has of late been under 
the military control of the rebel forces, claiming to be the peculiar friends 
of its citizens, and at each time, in the judgment of the commander of the 
military forces holding it, it has been found necessary to preserve order 
and maintain quiet by the administration of Law Martial. Even during 
the interim from its evacuation by the rebel soldiers and its actual pos- 
session by the soldiers of the United States, the civil authorities of the 
city have found it necessary to call for the intervention of an armed body 
known as the " European Legion," to preserve public tranquility. The 
commanding general, therefore, will cause the city to be governed, until 
the restoration of municipal authority and his further orders, by the Law 
Martial, a measure for which it would seem the previous recital furnishes 
sufficient precedents. 

All persons in arms against the United States are required to surrender 
themselves, with their arms, equipments, and munitions of war, The body 

1 1st, by purchase in 1803; 2d, by General Wilkinson in 1807, when the city was supposed to 
be threatened by Aaron Burr ; 3d, by General Jackson in 1814. 


known as the "European Legion," not being understood to be in arms 
against the United States, but organized to protect the lives and property 
of the citizens, are invited still to co-operate with the forces of the United 
States to that end, and, so acting, will not be included in the terms of this 
order, but will report to these headquarters. 

All flags, ensigns, and devices, tending to uphold any authority what- 
ever, save the flag of the United States and the flags of foreign consulates, 
must not be exhibited, but suppressed. The American ensign, the emblem 
of the United States, must be treated with the utmost deference and 
respect by all persons, under pain of severe punishment. 

All persons well disposed toward the Government of the United States, 
who shall renew their oath of allegiance, will receive the safeguard and 
protection, in their persons and property, of the armies of the United 
States, the violation of which, by any person, is punishable with death. 

All persons still holding allegiance to the Confederate States will be 
deemed rebels against the Government of the United States and regarded 
and treated as enemies thereof. 

All foreigners not naturalized and claiming allegiance to their respective 
governments, and not having made oath of allegiance to the supposed 
government of the Confederate States, will be protected in their persons 
and property as heretofore under the laws of the United States. 

All persons who heretofore have given their adherence to the supposed 
government of the Confederate States, or have been in their service, 
who shall lay down and deliver up their arms and return to peaceful 
occupations and preserve quiet and order, holding no further correspond- 
ence nor giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States, will 
not be disturbed either in person or property, except so far, under the 
orders of the commanding general, as the exigencies of the public service 
may render necessary. 

The keepers of all public property, whether State, National, or Confed- 
erate, such as collections of art, libraries, museums, as well as all public 
buildings, all munitions of war, and armed vessels, will at once make full 
returns thereof to these headquarters ; all manufacturers of arms and 
munitions of war will report to these headquarters their kind and place 
of business. 

All rights of property, of whatever kind, will be held inviolate, subject 
only to the laws of the United States. 

All inhabitants are enjoined to pursue their usual avocations ; all shops 
and places of business are to be kept open in the accustomed manner, 
and services to be had in the churches and religious houses as in times of 
profound peace. 


Keepers of all public houses, coffee houses, and drinking saloons, are to 
report their names and numbers to the office of the provost marshal ; will 
there receive license, and be held responsible for all disorders and disturb- 
ance of the peace arising in their respective places. 

A sufficient force will be kept in the city to preserve order and main- 
tain the laws. 

The killing of an American soldier by any disorderly person or mob, is 
simply assassination and murder, and not war, and will be so regarded 
and punished. 

The owner of any house or building in or from which such murder shall 
be committed, will be held responsible therefor, and the house will be 
liable to be destroyed by the military authority. 

All disorders and disturbances of the peace done by combinations and 
numbers, and crimes of an aggravated nature, interfering with forces or 
laws of the United States, will be referred to a military court for trial 
and punishment ; other misdemeanors will be subject to the municipal 
authority, if it chooses to act. Civil causes between party and party will 
be referred to the ordinary tribunals. The levy and collection of all taxes, 
save those imposed by the laws of the United States, are suppressed, 
except those for keeping in repair and lighting the streets, and for sanitary 
purposes. Those are to be collected in the usual manner. 

The circulation of Confederate bonds, evidences of debt, except notes 
in the similitude of bank notes issued by the Confederate States or scrip, 
or any trade in the same is strictly forbidden. It having been represented 
to the commanding general by the city authorities that these Confederate 
notes, in the form of bank notes, are, in a great measure, the only substitute 
for money which the people have been allowed to have, and that great 
distress would ensue among the poorer classes if the circulation of such 
notes were suppressed, such circulation will be permitted so long as any 
one may be inconsiderate enough to receive them, till further orders. 

No publication, either by newspaper, pamphlet, or handbill, giving 
accounts of the movements of soldiers of the United States, within this 
department, reflecting in any way upon the United States or its officers, 
or tending in any way to influence the public mind against the Govern- 
ment of the United States, will be permitted, and all articles of war news, 
or editorial comments, or correspondence, making comments upon the 
movements of the armies of the United States, or the rebels, must be 
submitted to the examination of an officer who will be detailed for that 
purpose from these headquarters. 

The transmission of all communications by telegraph will be under the 
charge of an officer from these headquarters. 


The armies of the United States came here not to destroy but to make 
good, to restore order out of chaos and the government of laws in place 
of the passions of men ; to this end, therefore, the efforts of all well- 
disposed persons are invited to have every species of disorder quelled, and 
if any soldier of the United States should so far forget his duty or his 
flag as to commit any outrage upon any person or property, the command- 
ing general requests that his name be instantly reported to the provost 
guard, so that he may be punished and his wrongful act redressed. 

The municipal authority, so far as the police of the city and crimes are 
concerned to the extent before indicated, is hereby suspended. 

All assemblages of persons in the streets, either by day or by night, 
tend to disorder, and are forbidden. 

The various companies composing the fire department in New Orleans 
will be permitted to retain their organizations, and are to report to the 
office of the provost marshal, so that they may be known and not inter- 
fered with in their duties. 

And, finally, it may be sufficient to add, without further enumeration, 
that all the requirements of martial law will be imposed so long as, in the 
judgment of the United States authorities, it may be necessary. And 
while it is the desire of these authorities to exercise this government 
mildly, and after the usages of the past, it must not be supposed that it 
will not be vigorously and firmly administered as occasion calls. 

By command of 

Major-General Butler. 

Geo. C. Strong, A. A. Gen., Chief of Staff. 

When Farragut came up the river to be followed by my troops, 
Lovell deserted the city with some eight or nine thousand men, some 
under arms and some otherwise. He encamped at Pontchatoula, 
about eighty miles from the city, to which he was taken by cars. 

When the government became established, the men who were 
forced to go with Lovell returned, so that his command dwindled 
down quite one half. The men came back to New Orleans, put 
on citizens' clothes, and went about their business. 

In the interval between the evacuation by Lovell and Farragut' s 
arrival, a panic had seized the city, exhibiting itself in the destruc- 
tion of property. Cotton, sugar, tar, rosin, timber, and coal were 
set on lire, and all the ships and vessels that could not be taken 
away with a few exceptions were burned. There was even some 


talk among the citizens of burning the city. Some of the Confeder- 
ate leaders favored it on the ground that there was a large foreign 
interest in the city, especially French, and that if the city were 
destroyed it would bring the war so home to them that France would 
try to cause it to be ended by intervention. 

This destruction of property was also done on the outside of the 
city upon the ground that the supplies, especially cotton, would be 
destroyed by us upon capture. To allay this fear I issued General 

Order No. 22 : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 

New Orleans, May 4, 1862. 
General Order No. 22. 

The commanding general of the department having been informed that 
rebellious, lying, and desperate men have represented, and are now repre- 
senting, to honest planters and good people of the State of Louisiana that 
the United States Government by its force has come here to confiscate 
their crops of cotton and sugar, it is hereby ordered to be made known by 
publication in all the newspapers of this city that all cargoes of cotton 
and sugar shall receive the safe conduct of the force of the United States ; 
and the boats bringing them from beyond the lines of the United States 
force may be allowed to return in safety, after a reasonable delay, if their 
owners so desire, provided they bring no passengers except the owners 
and the merchandise of said boats and the property so conveyed, and no 
other merchandise except provisions, which such boats are requested to 
bring a full supply of for the benefit of the poor of the city. 

By command of 

Major-General Butler. 
George C. Strong, A. A. General. 

When that order was published, my enemies and the enemies of 
the country — they were not two classes then — immediately 
announced that I was using my troops in New Orleans for the pur- 
pose of private trade and speculation. It will be observed that the 
order says " property shall have safe conduct, " but I had to buy upon 
my own personal credit, for I had no public money on hand. So I 
opened a credit with Mr. Jacob Barker, a banker, who, upon pledge 
of the supplies purchased, advanced money on my purchases. 

After I had landed my troops I had a large number of transport 
vessels that had to be returned to New York and Boston in ballast. 


General Beauregard had called on the people to bring to him all 
their plantation and church bells to be cast into cannon, and those 
and some old rejected guns were everything I had with which to 
ballast all those ships. There was nothing to be found in New 
Orleans with which to ballast a vessel, as they never had occasion 
to ballast ships upon the outward voyage, because they always went 
out with cargo. The only other thing that could be had with which to 
ballast a vessel was white sand, and that would have to be brought 
in boats from Ship Island, more than one hundred miles off. The 
demurrage which the government must then pay by its charter for the 
delay in ballasting with sand would be many thousand dollars. 

My first purchases of sugar were to the amount of $60,000. This 
gave such confidence to the merchants that they made application to 
my brother, who was my agent in carrying on these transactions, to 
allow them to put their own sugar on board the vessels as ballast, 
paying a reasonable freight, consigned to New York. This I agreed 
to and established the freight at ten dollars a hogshead. One half 
of this was his commission for doing the business, he not being an 
officer of the government. It would have been better to have paid 
ten dollars a hogshead for leave to carry it than to have to ballast. 
I sent both the church bells and the old cannon, but they were only 
a flea bite of what was wanted. 

Nothing could have done as much for the pacification of the mer- 
chants of New Orleans as did these transactions. 

Some of the northern journals of that day will show articles which 
would have deterred a fainter-hearted man than myself from continuing. 
Yet I got all my ships off with just freight enough for ballast, and then, 
upon my recommendation, on the 1st of June the port of New Orleans 
was opened, postal communication with the rest of the country re- 
established, and a collector of customs appointed for my department. 
Meantime I reported to the War Department as follows : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, May 16, 1862. 1 

Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War : — 

In accordance with the terms of my order No. 22 I have caused to be 
bought a .very considerable quantity of sugar, but as yet very little 

* War Records, Series I., Vol. XV., page 423. 


cotton. This has gone very far to reassure the planters and factors. 
They are sending their agents everywhere into the interior to endeavor 
to stop the burning of the crops. 

Nobody can be better aware than myself that I have no right to 
buy this property with the money of the United States, even if I 
had any of it, which I have not. But I have bought it with my 
own money and upon my individual credit. The articles are sugar, 
rosin, and turpentine. I have sent these as ballast in the several 
transport ships, which otherwise would have to be sent to Ship Island 
for sand. These articles will be worth more in New York and Boston 
than I paid for them here through my agents. If the government 
chooses to take them and reimburse me for them I am content. If 
not, I am quite content to keep them and pay the government a reason- 
able freight. Whatever may be done the government will save by 
the transaction. I only desire that neither motives nor action shall be 

Benj. F. Butler, 

Major- General Commanding \ 

All this action of mine was approved of by the Secretary of 
War, as will appear by his message of June 10, which I shall gi\e 
later on. 

I was very much puzzled to know whether this policy of burning 
the crops was that of the rebel government or of an insane wretch, 
one Thomas O. Moore, governor of Louisiana and commander-in-chief 
of its militia, who issued some crazy orders once as to hanging 
instantly without trial any person who should be found to have my 
pass in his possession. 

Upon examination I now find the evidence conclusive that this 
burning of the crops was a premeditated and preconceived design of 
the rebels, pervading the congress and the executive. A question arose 
in the mind of General Lovell whether they should burn any other 
property than Confederate, leaving the property of foreigners 
untouched. But it was determined by the cabinet and Jefferson 
Davis that the property of foreigners should also be destroyed, in 
order to inflame foreign nations against us as the cause of loss, so as 


to make them interfere in behalf of the South — somewhat illogical 
but certainly true. 1 

The burning of property substantially ceased, and I purposely 
refrained from seizure or interference with it until the country got 
quieted down, and only returned to the policy of seizure afterwards 
because of the confiscation acts of our Congress. 

One thing I may say here as well as elsewhere, that from the hour 
I left Washington in February, 1862, to the hour of the despatch 
given below, I never received any direction or intimation from 
Washington or anywhere else how I should conduct the expedition 
or carry on the administration of the government in that depart- 
ment; and by no word ever afterwards was the confidence and 
high praise therein expressed by my official superiors as to my 
proceedings in New Orleans withdrawn. Following is the despatch 

referred to : — 

War Department, 
Washington, June 10, 1862. 
Maj.-Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, 

Commanding, etc., New Orleans : 
General: — Your interesting despatches, announcing the brilliant suc- 
cess of your expedition, as well as those sent by Colonel Deming and Mr. 
Bouligny, were duly received. No event during the war has exercised an 

1 Randolph, the rebel Secretary of War, wrote to Lovell, April 25, 1862, as follows : — 

It has been determined to burn all the cotton and tobacco, whether foreign or our own, to 
prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. You will, therefore, destroy it all if neces- 
sary to prevent them from getting it. 

This was sent on the 25th of April , but did not reach Lovell. It was again sent on the 28th, and 
did not reach him directly, but he did get it on the 7th of May. 

Randolph renewed the instructions on May 21, 1862. [War Records, Series I., Vol. XV., pp. 

The following is from Lovell's order pursuant to the instructions from Randolph [War 
Records, Series I., Vol. XV., pp. 459-460] : — 

Headquarters Department No. 1, C. S. A. 
Camp Moore, La., May 3, 1862. 
General Orders No. 17. 

It is with the people to decide this question for themselves. If you are resolved to be free ; if 
you are worthy of the heroic blood that has comedown to \ou through hallowed generations ; 
if you have fixed your undimmed eye upon the brightness that spreads out before you and your 
children, ind are determined to shake away forever and ever all political association with the 
vandal horde that now gather like a pestilence about your fair country, now, now, my fellow- 
citizens, is the time to strike. One sparkliru/, living touch of fire, in manly action for one hour 
upon each cotton plantation, and the eternal seal of Southern independence is fired and fixed in 
the great heart of the world. 

Your major-general calls in this hour of danger for one heroic effort, and he feels consciously 
proud that he will not call in vain. Let not a solitary bale of cotton be left as spoil for tne 
invader, and all will be well. 

. By order of 

Major-General Lovell. 
J. G. Pickett, Assistant Adjutant-General. 


influence upon the public mind so powerful as the capture and occupa- 
tion of New Orleans. To you and to the gallant officers and soldiers 
under your command, the Department tenders cordial thanks. Your 
vigorous and able administration of the government of that city also 
receives warm commendation* 

With admiration for your achievements, and the utmost confidence in 
your continuous success, I remain, 

Truly yours, 

Edwin M. Stanton, 

Secretary of War. 1 

Again, this is evidenced by a very highly prized letter of Mr. 
Lincoln asking me to come to him even before I returned to 
my family. 

Another matter that required instant attention, even in the midst 
of the flame and smoke of burning property, was the absolutely 
starving condition of the people of New Orleans. It was difficult 
enough to get supplies, even while the army of Lovell was there; 
but after the news of the bombardment and passage of the forts, 
nothing came into the city and everything went out. The fleeing 
inhabitants almost took their kneading troughs and the contents on 
their backs, — as did the children of Israel, — as they fled to the sur- 
rounding country, which was wholly without supplies. Flour was 
sixty dollars a barrel, and little to be had at that. The condition 
will be described in a word, as it was to me by the Hon. Thomas J. 
Durant, leading Unionist and formerly the attorney-general of Louisi- 
ana : " General, you will understand to what we are reduced when 
I tell you that the day before you landed, 4 all that my children had 
to eat was two ginger cakes got from a confectioner." 

The city authorities had depended on supplies of flour purchased 
in Mobile and Alexandria, but the ascent of our fleet and the presence 
of our gunboat, the New London, on the waters of the Gulf, had 
prevented the delivery. 

On the 3d of May, at my first meeting with the city government, 
this condition of suffering and starvation was brought to my atten- 
tion. I had already learned that we had captured a thousand barrels 

1 War Records, Series I., Vol. XV., p. 471. 


of beef salted at Alexandria and furnished for the rebel troops, but 
which they could not take with them. I immediately ordered this 
to be turned over to the committee of the city government, to whom 
Pierre Soule was added. This I did upon the solemn pledge that 
all such provisions should be used only for a supply for the inhabi- 
tants of the city. On the morning following, I issued General 
Order No 19/ — 

Headquarters Department op the Gulf, 
New Orleans, May 3, 1862. 
General Order No. 19. 

The commanding general of this department has been informed that 
there is now at Mobile a stock of flour purchased by the city of New 
Orleans for the subsistence of its citizens. The suffering condition of the 
poor of this city, for the want of this flour, appeals to the humanity of 
those having authority on either side. 

For the purpose of the safe transmission of this flour to this city, the 
commanding general orders and directs that a safe conduct be afforded 
to a steamboat, to be laden with the same to this place. This safe conduct 
shall extend to the entire protection of this boat in coming, reasonable 
delay for discharge and return to Mobile. The boat will take no passen- 
gers save the owners and keepers of the flour, and will be subject to the 
strict inspection of the harbor master detailed from these headquarters, to 
whom its master will report its arrival. 

The faith of the city is pledged for the faithful performance of the re- 
quirements of this order on the part of the agent of the city authorities, 
who will be allowed to pass each way with the boat, giving no intelligence 
or aid to the Confederates. 

By command of 

Major- General Butler. 
George C. Strong, A. A. General. 

On the succeeding day, I issued an order directing safe conduct 
for bringing, from the Red River, provisions which had been pur- 
chased there by the city, and a similar order to the Opelousas Rail- 
road Company to bring to the city such provisions and such supplies 
as it might, and made safe conduct for the agents, messengers, and 
employees of the vessels and the railroad. Provisions were at once 
brought in from these several sources and the immediate and pressing 
necessities of the citizens were relieved. 







Before the war, I had met gentlemen of the South whose word I 
would take implicitly. I believed them men of honor, and they 
were so. But the dire crime of treason seemed to have obliterated 
the consciences of quite all of them, as well as of the foreign officials 
who resided among them, just as the man who makes up his mind 
to dishonor the wife of his friend, also prepares his conscience to 

permit his perjury to 
defend himself and 
her in the crime. Sir 
Walter Scott treats 
this, in a public speech, 
as the acknowledged 
duty of a gentleman. 
So, in the South, no 
pledge or engagement 
made with a Yankee 
was held to be binding. 
The most flagrant 
instance of this was in 
the case of the McRae, 
captured at Fort Jack- 
son. She was the only 
Confederate gunboat 
that had not been de- 
stroyed by Farragut's 
fleet in its passage of 
the forts. The enemy 
asked that she might be 
sent up under a flag of 
truce as a cartel to carry 
their wounded officers 
and men to the city. 
Of course she was to return and deliver herself up, because, as she 
was then, with Farragut's fleet above and below her, she could not 
possibly have escaped. This arrangement was made between Cap- 
tain Smith, commanding the Mississippi at the quarantine, and the 
officers of the Confederate navy. They deliberately caused holes to 
be bored in the steamer, as she lay in the river after they had landed 

Benj. F. Butlek in 1803. 
Engraved from a Life-size Bust. 


from her, and sunk her. They took care to keep themselves out of 
New Orleans after I came, for if I had found them there, they would 
have been deprived of future opportunity to do any more rascality, 
and by the most effectual means. 

I soon learned that the committee, with the assent of Soule, had 
smuggled the one thousand barrels of beef intrusted to them across 
the lake to feed Lovell's troops at Camp Moore and left their fellow- 
citizens to starve, and that the boats sent to Mobile for provisions 
had been made despatch boats for the carrying of mail under the 
direction of the French consul, and of treasonable correspondence 
giving information to the rebels as to the condition of military and 
naval affairs in the Department of the Gulf. 

Charles Heidsieck, a partner in the French firm of Heidsieck 
& Co., producers and venders of champagne, disguised himself as a 
bar-keeper, in order to pass backward and forward on the supply 
boats as a messenger and spy. This was known to some of the 
committee of the city government, and by a conforming coincidence 
the same sort of use was made of the boats bringing the city's 
provisions from Alexandria, and also for another purpose which was 
not to our disadvantage. 

After my proclamation giving assurance that the gold in the banks 
of New Orleans would be safe, these banks sent in to the Confederacy 
at Richmond for safety rising six millions in gold. This was part of 
the thirteen millions which they had at the time of the passage of the 
forts. One of the banks wanted to get its gold back, and so brought 
it in barrels of beef by the provision boats. It may be well to say in 
passing, that the gold thus sent away all the banks very much wanted 
to get back again, and applied to the rebel government for leave to 
have it sent, and applied to me for permission to have it returned and 
delivered to them. Memminger, the secretary of the rebel treasury, 
refused that permission, and the Confederate government took pos- 
session of the gold as " a sacred trust. " But that gold afterwards 
was carried off from Richmond when Jeff Davis escaped, and at his 
capture was plundered by those having it in charge. 

Of course these modes of bringing provisions to the city had to be 
stopped on account of the abuses made of the privileges granted. 
This, of course, brought the city again almost to the verge of starv- 
ation. The city government had not voted a single dollar for the 


relief of the poor. There were one hundred and fifty thousand 
inhabitants. There were more paroled rebel soldiers in the city 
than the general had troops within fifty miles of his headquarters. 
The families of many of those who had gone to Shiloh, Richmond, 
and the other Confederate armies, were all left behind, generally in a 
state of destitution. What was to be done ? 

It was attempted to meet this exigency by the following order : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, May 9, 1862. 

General Order No. 25. 

The deplorable state of destitution and hunger of the mechanics and 
working classes of this city has been brought to the knowledge of the 
commanding general. 

He has yielded to every suggestion made by the city government, and 
ordered every method of furnishing food to the people of New Orleans 
that government desired. No relief by those officials has yet been 
afforded. This hunger does not pinch the wealthy and influential, the 
leaders of the rebellion, who have gotten up this war, and are now 
endeavoring to prosecute it, without regard to the starving poor, the 
workingman, his wife and child. Unmindful of their suffering fellow- 
citizens at home, they have caused or suffered provisions to be carried out 
of -the city for Confederate service since the occupation by the United 
States forces. 

Lafayette Square, their home of affluence, was made the depot of 
stores and munitions of war for the rebel armies, and not of provisions 
for their poor neighbors. Striking hands with the vile, the gambler, the 
idler, and the ruffian, they have destroyed the sugar and cotton which 
might have been exchanged for food for the industrious and good, and 
regrated the price of that which is left, by discrediting the very currency 
they had furnished, while they eloped with the specie; as well as that 
stolen from the United States, as from the banks, the property of the 
good people of New Orleans, thus leaving them to ruin and starvation. 

Fugitives from justice many of them, and others their associates, staying 
because too puerile and insignificant to be objects of punishment by the 
clement Government of the United States. 

They have betrayed their country. 

They have been false to every trust. 

They ha^ve shown themselves incapable of defending the State they had 
seized upon, although they have forced every poor man's child into their 


service as soldiers for that purpose, while they made their sons and 
nephews officers. 

They cannot protect those whom they have ruined, but have left them 
to the mercies and assassinations of a chronic mob. 

They will not feed those whom they are starving. 

Mostly without property themselves, they have plundered, stolen, and 
destroyed the means of those who had property, leaving children penni- 
less and old age hopeless. 

Men of Louisiana, workingmen, property-holders, merchants, and 
citizens of the United States, of whatever nation you may have had birth, 
how long will you uphold these flagrant wrongs, and, by inaction, suffer 
yourselves to be made the serfs of these leaders? 

The United States have sent land and naval forces here to fight and 
subdue rebellious armies in array against her authority. We find, sub- 
stantially, only fugitive masFe*, runaway property-burners, a whiskey- 
drinking mob, and starving citizens wi';h their wives and children. It is 
our duty to call back the first, to punish the second, root out the third, 
feed and protect the last. 

Ready only for war, we had not prepared ourselves to feed the hungry 
and relieve the distressed with provisions. But to the extent possible 
within the power of the commanding general, it shall be done. 

He has captured a quantity of beef and sugar intended for the rebels in 
the field. A thousand barrels of these stores will be distributed among 
the deserving poor of this city, from whom the rebels had plundered it ; 
even although some of the food will go to supply the craving wants of 
the wives and children of those now herding at " Camp Moore " and 
elsewhere, in arms against the United States. 

Capt. John Clark, Acting Chief Commissary of Subsistence, will be 
charged with the execution of this order, and will give public notice of 
the place and manner of distribution, which will be arranged, as far as 
possible, so that the -unworthy and dissolute will not share its benefits. 

By command of 

Major-General Butler. 

Geo. C. Strong, .4. A. G., Chief of Staff . 

Under this order 32,400 men, women, and children had these pro- 
visions distributed to them, under a system which ensured that the 
food went to the weakest every day. These were all poor whites ; 
the blacks were otherwise provided for. My supplies for the army 


having arrived from New York, I directed my commissary to "sell 
to families for consumption, in small quantities, until further orders, 
flour and salt meats, viz. : pork, beef, ham, and bacon, from the stores 
of the army, at seven and a half cents per pound for flour, and ten 
cents for meats, city bank notes, gold, silver, or treasury notes to be 
taken in payment." Flour went down from sixty to twent} r -five 
dollars a barrel in the course of thirty days, and for those who had 
means to purchase, starvation was not possible. 

But still the question of how the poor were to be fed ultimately, 
and at whose cost, pressed back upon me, and that was complicated 
with another question which was, how the health of the city was to 
be guarded and preserved. The yellow fever had always within 
the memory of man been the scourge of New Orleans, returning 
every summer with such virulence as to drive from the city all 
unacclimated persons who could get away. In 1853, the victims of 
yellow fever were so numerous that there were no means of burying 
them, and so they were removed by cremation, their bodies being 
piled up for that purpose in heaps. And yet, even after that terrible 
warning, no method or means of prevention in the future had ever 
been had. The reason for this is best told in the words of a leading 
editorial in the True Delta, the proprietor of which, it will be recol- 
lected, was so ardent a secessionist that he refused to print my 
proclamation. The editorial was printed after he was disciplined for 
his secession conduct. : — 

" For seven years past," said the True Delta, of May 6, " the world 
knows that this city, in all its departments, — judicial, legislative, and 
executive, — has been at the absolute disposal of the most godless, brutal, 
ignorant, and ruthless ruffianism the world has ever, heard of since the 
days of the great Roman conspirator. By means of a secret organization 
emanating from that fecund source of every political infamy, New 
England; and named Know-Nothingism or < Sammyism,' — from the 
boasted exclusive devotion of the fraternity to the United States, — our 
city, from being the abode of decency, of liberality, generosity, and 
justice, has become a perfect hell; the temples of justice are sanctuaries 
for crime ; the ministers of the laws, the nominees of blood-stained, 
vulgar, ribald caballers ; licensed murderers shed innocent blood on the 
most public thoroughfares with impunity ; witnesses of the most atrocious 
crimes are either spirited away, bought off, or intimidated from testifying; 


perjured associates are retained to prove alibis, and ready bail is always 
procurable for the immediate use of those whom it is not immediately prudent 
to enlarge otherwise. The electoral system is a farce and a fraud ; the 
knife, the slungshot, the brass knuckles determining, while the sham is being 
enacted, who shall occupy and administer the offices of the municipality and 
the commonwealth. Can our condition surprise any man ? 

" We accept the reproach in the proclamation, as every Louisianian, 
alive to the honor and fair fame of his State and chief city, must accept it, 
with bowed heads and brows abashed." 

The condition of peace, order, and quiet to which the city had 
been brought at this time, is also certified to by the New Orleans 
Bee, another secession paper. The Bee of May 8 said : — 

The federal soldiers do not seem to interfere with the private prop- 
erty of the citizens, and have done nothing that we are aware of to 
provoke difficulty. The usual nightly reports of arrests for vagrancy, 
assaults, wounding, and killing, have unquestionably been diminished. 
The city is as tranquil and peaceable as in the most quiet times. 

About the fourth day after my proclamation, I drove out in a 
calash with my wife one morning to take a look at the condition 
of the city and its suburbs. We took no guard save an orderly 
on the box. General Kinsman of my staff was with us. We 
went up the river in a street parallel with it and about one 
hundred yards from it. A little way up the river we came upon 
the "basin," a broad opening or pond for the reception of canal 
boats. A canal extended from this point across to Lake Pontchartrain. 
As we approached the " basin," the air seemed filled with the most 
noxious and offensive stenches possible, — so noxious as almost to 
take away the power of breathing. The whole surface of the canal 
and the pond was covered with a thick growth of green vegetable 
scum, variegated with dead cats and dogs or the remains of dead 
mules on the banking. The sun shone excessively hot, and the 
thermometer might have been 120°. We turned to the right and 
went down along the canal as far as Lake Pontchartrain, rinding 
it all in the same condition until within a few rods of the lake. We 
drove back by a very different route. 


I sent immediately for the city officer charged with the super- 
intendence of the streets and canals, and responsible for their 
condition. He was an officer whom I had not seen. He reported 

" You are the superintendent of streets and canals, are you ? " 

"Yes, General." 

" What is the matter with the new canal at the head of it and all 
along down ? " 

"Nothing, that I know of, General." 

" Have you been up lately to the head of it ? " 

" Yes ; there yesterday." 

" Didn't you observe anything special when you were there ? " 

"No, General." 

" Not an enormous stink ? " 

"No more than usual, General; no more than there always is." 

"Do you mean to tell me that the canal always looks and stinks 
like that?" 

"In hot weather, General." 

" When was it cleaned out last ? " 

"Never, to my knowledge, General." 

"Well, it must be cleaned out at once, and that nuisance 

"I cannot do it, General." 

"Why not?" 

"I don't know how." 

"Very well, your services are no longer required by the govern- 
ment for the city. I will find somebody who does know how. 
Good-morning, sir." 

I had learned that the rebels were actually relying largely 
upon the yellow fever to clear out the Northern troops, the men 
of New England and the Northwest, with their fresh lips and clear 
complexions, whom they had learned from experience were usually 
the first victims of that scourge. I had heard also (I hope it was 
not true, but yet I believe it) that in the churches prayers were 
put up that the pestilence might come as a divine interposition 
on behalf of the brethren. Every means was taken to harass my 
naturally tomesick officers and soldiers with dire accounts of the 
scourge of yellow fever. 


I had also heard, but did not believe it true, that General Lee 
relied for the defence of Louisiana and the recapture of New 
Orleans, upon the depletion of our troops by yellow fever; but, 
alas ! it was true, as shown by the following correspondence : — 

Headquarters Department No. 1, C. S. A., 
Camp Moore, La., May 12, 1862. 

Governor Thomas O. Moore : 

Sir: — , . . With reference to your want of knowledge of my 
plans, it has probably escaped your mind that I read to you yesterday that 
part of my letter to General Lee which related to my future course of action, 
and it seemed to meet the approval of Judge Moise and yourself. It was 
simply to organize a central force of 5,000 men, which, in connection with 
corps of Partisan Rangers, might succeed in confining the enemy to New 
Orleans, and thus subject him to the diseases incident to that city in 
summer. If I cannot organize that central force, I fear that I shall be 
compelled to abandon that plan and be driven from the State ; and it was 
the possibility of this result which induced my note of this morning. 


Respectfully your obedient servant, 

M. Lovell, 


Major- General Commanding. 

This letter shows that this question was submitted to Lee on or 
before the 12th of May, and that it was agreed to by Governor 
Moore and Judge Moise ; and there is nothing in the " War 
Correspondence " which shows that it was ever objected to by Lee. 

I ought to state what the dangers were. It is well known that 
persons having had the yellow fever and thus becoming acclimated, 
are no more liable to a recurrence of the disease than in the case of 
that other scourge of armies, the smallpox. 

In the year 1853, beginning August 1, excluding those that 
were not liable to have the yellow fever and those who had gone out 
from New Orleans for the summer, the population open to the 
disease was thirty thousand only. On the first week in August 
there were 909 deaths from yellow fever; on the second week, 
1,282; on the third week, 1,575; and on the fourth week, the 
deaths in one day, the 2 2d of August, were 239 ; so that, from the 


28th of May, there were 7,439 certified deaths by yellow fever. 
Many hundreds died away from the city and up the river, and many 
died on the steamers, while attempting to get away. These figures 
do not include those who died in the suburbs, Algiers, Jefferson 
City, JEtna, and Carrollton. Thus, of 30,000 total, one in every 
four died. 

No conversations went on in the presence of my officers other than 
descriptions of the incidents of the attacks of the terrible fever in 
1853, when its dead lay in heaps because of the inability of the 
living to inter them. 

An instance was reported to me which was quite laughable. Near 
the lower boundary of the part of New Orleans known as French- 
town, which was then, perhaps, the most filthy of all, a poor soldier 
from Maine, homesick, dreaming of the pure air and bright land- 
scape of his native State and pining to return thereto, was pacing 
his weary beat. Naturally he listened to the conversation that went 
on around him, and accordingly he was attacked in this way : Two 
newsboys stood near him and one said : k l Jack, have you heard the 
news?" "No, Tom, what is it?' "Got the yellow fever prime 
down in Frenchtown ; two Yanks dead already. It will sweep them 
all off." 

No surgeon in my army ever saw a case of yellow fever or had any 
instruction in meeting this hideous foe. A panic seized many of 
my officers. There were still other reasons for them to pine for 
home. New troops were being raised, and as the Army of the Gulf 
had acquired some reputation, the governors of all States, save 
Massachusetts, were glad to get officers from my army to promote 
into these new regiments. So, if they could but get home, they 
would find safety, promotion, and happiness. They were becoming 
downcast, and I feared the effect of this very despondency in increas- 
ing the liability to the disease. 

I asked one old New Orleans physician if there were any means 
of keeping the fever away from the city. He told me there was 
none. I asked him if there were no means of preventing its spread- 
ing over the city. He told me he knew of none, after it once got 
there. The quarantine might be of some advantage, but if the fever 
ever got iuto the city, especially under the circumstances, the city 
having been occupied by armed forces for many months and being 


in a horrible condition as to cleanliness, he saw no reason why the 
disease would not spread with irresistible fury, as so many unaccli- 
mated persons were confined there. I asked him if he had any 
authorities upon the peculiarities of the disease. He said that the 
best book he knew of was the description of the rise, progress, and 
decline of the disease in 1853, by Professor Everett, who had written 
upon the matter very intelligently. I asked him if he would loan 
me the treatise and he assented. I asked him if he would attach 
himself to my headquarters as a physician. He said to me that it 
would be his ruin to do such a thing. 

My medical director had been chosen for me and sent down to 
serve under me. He was a gentleman of very high family and 
respectable acquirements, but had had no long service in the army or 
elsewhere. I talked with him about this disease and discovered that 
he was utterly at sea. 

Meantime, as soon as I would listen to them, at orderly hours 
every day there were applications by officers for leave of absence to 
go home, under every excuse and every sort of pretence. Some men 
whom I knew to be good men would come to me with excuses and 
reasons that they should be furloughed. Only one of my staff 
officers went home, and he did not come back. Fortunately nobody 
could go home without my written pass. 

My own patience broke down under the continual perplexity of 
these applications, for I was continually tried with certificates of ill 
health from every kind of a physician. I may relate a single inci- 
dent : An officer whom I knew to be a brave and respectable man, — 
one who would have gone to the cannon's mouth, I have no doubt, 
upon a simple order, — got terribly frightened about yellow fever. 
He came to me with two or three certificates, by which he hoped I 
would be induced to give him a leave of absence. At last he 
brought one from the surgeon of his regiment, who I knew would 
probably sign anything that his major desired. It was very carefully 
worded, declaring that the officer's state of health was such that 
there was great danger that his life would not be spared longer than 
thirty days. That was a safe certificate to give, because all of us 
were then in danger that our lives would not be spared more than 
thirty days, if as long. I looked my applicant straight in the eye 
and said: fck I differ in opinion with your doctor, and I am going to 


try an experiment. I shall keep you here thirty days, and if you 
die in that time I will beg the doctor's pardon for doubting his 
skill; if you don't, it will be just as well as though you had gone 
home." Imagine his disgust and his hard feeling at the moment. 
But we lived to be afterwards the very best of friends. He did not 
die nor was his life in any more danger than mine. 

I found a map showing the localities of the city; the portions where 
the yellow fever usually raged being indicated by heavier shading. 
I found by the professor's book that the fever had usually originated 
in the immediate vicinity of the French market. I rode around and 
examined the French market and a number of other localities, and I 
thought I detected why it raged in those spots ; they were simply 
astonishingly filthy with rotting matter. In the French market the 
stall women were accustomed to drop on the floor around their stalls 
all the refuse made in cleaning their birds, meats, and fish. Here 
it was trodden in and in. This had been going on for a century, 
more or less. 

The fact that the disease nourished so much in the vicinity of 
decaying and putrid animal matter led me to the conclusion that this 
prolific cause of the typhus and typhoid fever must have something to 
do with el vomito. Upon my further diagnosis of the disease I found 
that it had also the peculiar characteristics of the congestive fevers 
caused by malarial exhalations from decaying vegetable matter. It 
seemed to me, as near as I could get at it, two intermingled or conjoint 
fevers affecting the patient's system at the same time. Therefore I 
argued that if we could get rid of the producing causes of either one 
of those species of fever we might not have a yellow fever even if 
the people were subjected to the cause of the other fever. Examining 
further, as well as I could, it seemed to me that it was nearly impossible 
in New Orleans to remove the seeds or germs of malarial fever, — 
the fever called in the West fever and ague, — because vegetation 
blossoming in February died in August, and under the hottest possible 
sun was soon decaying. Moreover, the vegetable growth was so 
enormous that in the summer it was present in a decaying condition 
everywhere. Therefore to attempt to get rid of the decomposed 
vegetable matter would be impracticable. 

Turning my attention to the decaying animal matter and filth, I 
came to the conclusion that this could be disposed of so that the city 


would not be covered with an atmosphere impregnated with those 
germs of disease which cause ship or jail fevers the world over, 
emanations from the human body being the most prolific source of 
them. I learned that New Orleans was a city very easy to clean of 
that sort of matter. It had no sewers, but only drains, which were 
above ground and could easily be gotten at. I found that these 
ditches and drains had not been cleaned for many years. 

There were three canals or bayous which ran from the river 
through the city into Lake Pontchartrain, a shallow lake, four or five 
miles away, into which the salt water flowed through the rigolets or 
straits leading in from the Gulf of Mexico. There were numerous 
fresh water streams running into the lake which very considerably 
freshened the water. 

I learned from an old engineer that the lake had another pecu- 
liarity. The difference in the tide in the Gulf of Mexico rarely 
exceeded eighteen inches. The blowing of the winds into the Gulf 
and out of the Gulf overcame the difference of tides. So with the 
lake ; a good, strong, north wind, called a k ' norther, ' ' would blow 
the waters of the lake out into the Gulf so as to lower the lake two 
and one half feet. Again, the south wind would bring a quantity 
of salt water back into the lake. 

All the drainage of the city flowed into the lake through the drains 
from the houses, and all the water pumped from the Mississippi 
River by the Commercial Water Works also flowed into the lake 
through these open drains. 

It must be borne in mind that the banks, or levees, of the Missis- 
sippi River are some sixteen to eighteen feet higher than the city. 
When the river is full, one standing in the streets looks up to a ship 
in the river as he would look up to the top of a house. In the dry 
time, the water falls away about the same distance, exposing to the 
sun a wide expanse of " batture," or silt, brought down from above. 
I am not at all sure that this last is hurtful. 

Putting these facts together, I came to the conclusion to try to 
prevent the yellow fever. 

First, I established at the quarantine station, seventy miles below 
New Orleans, a very strict quarantine, wherein thirty -two and sixty- 
eight pound shots should be the messengers to execute the health 
orders. Vessels were required to stop below Fort St. Philip, about 



five miles below the quarantine establishment, and there be inspected 
by the health officer, who would report to me by telegraph the con- 
dition of the vessel, passengers, crew, and cargo. The officer at Fort 
St. Philip was to allow no vessel to go up without my personal 
order, by telegraph or in writing, and this was not given unless the 
quarantine physician, upon examination below, reported a clean bill 
of health in every respect. If any vessel attempted to evade quar- 
antine regulations and pass up without being examined, the vessel 
was to be stopped if there was power enough in the fort to do it. 
I required that the term quarantine should be used literally, and any 

The Levee at New Orleans. 

vessel found with sickness on board, of any malarial kind, or with ship 
fevers, should stay down forty days and not come up again until re- 
inspected. Before this, it had been possible, under the State laws, 
for such a vessel to come up at the end of ten days, if a dishonest 
surgeon chose to certify that the vessel would be all right in that 
time,— a fact he could not know. 

One further regulation: No vessel which had come from an 
infected port, i. e., a port where the yellow fever was prevailing, 
whatever j:he condition of her health, should be allowed to come up 
under forty days. 


Having shut the door against our destroying enemy and fastened 
it securely, I engaged the most competent medical director in the 
matter of yellow fever there was in the country, Doctor MacCormick, 
who fought it in New Orleans through the siege of 1853. Before 
he came I procured a perfectly competent quarantine officer, to whom 
I was to pay double the salary of the State quarantine officer upon 
the ground that I did not need his services between the middle of 
November and the middle of May. This quarantine officer was 
engaged under a specific contract that he was to have no responsi- 
bility for himself and his assistants, except to make true reports of 
the condition of the vessels, after a full and intelligent examination. 
And as the health and lives of so many would be dependent upon the 
truth of those reports, he was notified that any remissness in his 
duty would be punished with the heaviest punishment known. 

The next requirement that complicated the matter was the neces- 
sity of doing all this at once. Therefore, on the 4th of June, I sent 
the following message to the military commandant and the city 
council of New Orleans : — 

New Orleans, June 4, 1862. 

To the Military Commandant and City Council of New Orleans : 

General Shepley and Gentlemen : — Painful necessity compels some action 
in relation to the unemployed and starving poor of New Orleans. Men 
willing to labor cannot get work by which to support themselves and 
families, and are suffering for food. 

Because of the sins of their betrayers, a worse than the primal curse 
seems to have fallen upon them : " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou 
eat bread until thou return unto the ground." 

The condition of the streets of the city calls for the promptest action 
for a greater cleanliness and more perfect sanitary preparations. 

To relieve, as far as I may be able to do, both difficulties, I propose to 
the city government as follows : 

I. The city shall employ upon the streets, squares, and unoccupied lands 
in the city, a force of men, with proper implements, and under competent 
direction, to the number of two thousand, for at least thirty working days, 
in putting those places in such condition as, with the blessing of Providence, 
shall insure the health as well of the citizens as of the troops. 

The necessities of military operations will detain in the city a larger 
number of those who commonly leave it during the summer, especially 
women and children, than are usually resident here during the hot 


months. Their health must be cared for by you; I will care for my 
troops. The miasma which sickens the one will harm the other. The 
epidemic so earnestly prayed for by the wicked will hardly sweep away 
the strong man, although he may be armed, and leave the weaker woman 
and child untouched. 

II. That each man of this force be paid by the city from its revenues 
fifty cents per day, and a larger sum for skilled labor, for each day's labor 
of ten hours, toward the support of their families ; and that in the 
selection of laborers, men with families dependent upon them be 

III. That the United States shall issue to each laborer so employed, 
for each day's work, a full ration for a soldier, containing over fifty 
ounces of wholesome food, which, with economy, will support a man and 

This issue will be fully equal in value, at the present prices of food, to 
the sum paid by the city. 

IV. That proper muster-rolls be prepared of these laborers, and details 
so arranged that only those that labor, with their families, shall be fed 
from this source. 

V. "No paroled soldier or person who has served in the Confederate 
forces shall be employed, unless he takes the oath of allegiance to the 
United States. 

I shall be glad to arrange the details of this proposal through the aid 
of Colonel Shafer, of the quartermaster department, and Colonel Turner, 
of the subsistence department, as soon as it has been acted on by you. 

The reason of this calling upon the city was that I proposed to 
expend on this work part of the taxes of the city. 

I had made the acquaintance of Col. T. B. Thorpe, and we agreed 
upon the following plan for having the city cleansed and kept 
clean : — 

The occupant of every house was to see that everything within 
and without its courtelige was cleansed to the acceptance of Colonel 
Thorpe's inspector, within twenty-four hours of daylight after being 
served with notice. The outside walls of buildings which were not 
painted were required to be thoroughly whitewashed with a wash 
containing a solution of lime, alum, and salt. No refuse of any sort 
was to be deposited in the yard of any house, but some kind 
of a receptacle acceptable to the inspector was to be placed on 
the premises, into which everything of that sort must be put, and 


on two given days of the week that receptacle was required to be 
set out at the edge of the street opposite to the area door: four mule 
teams or army transportation were to pass through every street on the 
days designated, and into proper vessels in the wagon the house 
receptacles were to be emptied. Each wagon was to have with it a 
cask of chloride of lime, and the receptacle having been emptied 
was to be examined. If found clean and sweet it was to be set 
back ; if not, it was to be cleansed and disinfected with chloride of 
lime by those having the wagon in charge. Nothing of any descrip- 
tion whatever was to be thrown into the streets or on outlands. 
Any infraction of these orders was to be punished by imprisonment 
in the parish prison. 

It may be said, it was impossible to enforce such orders. On 
the contrary, it was perfectly possible when one was in earnest. To 
show that it could be done, let me give two instances : — 

The day of the first publication of the order, a secession trader, 
after having made some disparaging remarks upon the order, said : 
u We will see whether if anybody throws anything into the street 
he is to be put into the parish prison, ' * and thereupon took from his 
desk a quarter sheet of white paper, stepped to his door and called 
out to a policeman as he threw it into the street, "You see me do 
this." The policeman informed me, and I sent for the man. He 
admitted throwing the paper into the street, but claimed it was his 
privilege. I told him the streets were made to pass through, and 
while he took his privilege I would take mine and pass him through 
the streets into the parish prison to stay three months. There was 
no more wilful throwing of things into the street. 

Another was the case of one of the fashionable ladies of New 
Orleans, who had a very dirty area. Such a thing as underground 
drainage for water closets was not known in that city. The excre- 
ment was deposited in a deep square box. When that box got full 
it was drawn out and another one put in its place. Not unfre- 
quently the one drawn out was allowed to stand for months in the 
area, exposed to the sun. That was the condition in part of this 
high-toned woman's "back yard," as we call it in New England. 
My inspector called upon her. 

"Did you receive an order? " 



"Well, marm," — he Avas a full-toned Yankee — "why didn't 
you clean up your back yard ? ' ' 

"My back yard is as I choose to have it, and it won't be altered 
at the order of any Yankee." 

"Well, marm," falling now fully into the Yankee drawl, "I'm 
sorry, but you must go and get your calash and fix up a little, and 
I guess you had better take a shirt with you, for I shall be obleeged 
to take you to jail, and that would be an awful thing, wouldn't it, 
to do to such a fine lady as you are ? ' ' 

"I shall not do anything of the sort," said she. 

"Oh, well, marm, I am very sorry, but I am very busy, too," 
taking out his watch. kw I have just got three minutes I can wait 
upon you to get your calash and shirt, and if you don't do it by then, 
why I must take you along without them." 

She burst into tears and said : fc ' You know I cannot do this work 

"Oh, well, if a fine lady like you should give me her promise 
that her yard would be cleaned by to-morrow afternoon I could take 
her word for it." 

The next afternoon the back yard was in apple-pie order. 

Thus having got protection from filth in the future, the next 
requisition was to get rid of the filth that had accumulated. A 
party of men went down to the French market with an order, accom- 
panied by a few bayonets, which did not do any work. The man 
who appeared to be in charge was told that the market must be 
cleaned out at once. The superintendent said that he could not do 
it. "Very well, then, we shall do it and charge the expense to 
you. ' ' That market had been built by the Spanish, and a pavement 
had been laid in it. At the time we entered New Orleans, so I was 
informed, the actual decaying animal matter trodden into the bottom 
of that market extended up on the supports of the stalls fourteen, 
eighteen, and twenty-four inches above the pavement. While this 
cleaning was being done we were waiting a "norther." The city 
water-works had been ordered to put their whole pumping force 
on the streets and flush them as well as they could with water, one 
after the other, and aided by a body of two thousand men to clean 
out all the drains and ditches, to get a flow of water down these 
ditches into the canals and bayous. And then a "norther" came, 


and blew the water out of the lake, and thus got a draft down the 
canal. Then men with brushes, hoes, rakes, and other implements 
followed the water down, clearing the canal and making it perfectly 
clean, until substantially a clear stream of water flowed through it. 
The same thing was done with each of the three canals, thus clearing 
off every place where after careful inspection anything like human 
excrement or decaying animal matter could be found. 

We had one great aid. When it rains in New Orleans, it rains 
hard. The water comes down in " bucketsful " and the streets 
are flushed all over: So when the drains were all cleared, it imme- 
diately ran off and thus aided us in our work. 

I pause here to pay a just tribute to Col. T. B. Thorpe. His life 
labors had been anything but in the line qf this great performance. 
He was an author and an artist, and not inferior in either calling. 
The city of New Orleans, as well as the writer, owes him a debt of 
deepest gratitude, for in addition to doing this work he inaugurated 
the system by which food was distributed to the thirty-two thousand 
families who could not get it elsewhere. 

I had also adopted the theory that the yellow fever was not indige- 
nous to the climate of New Orleans, and that its seeds had to be 
brought there. If they were retained there through the winter at 
any time, it was because they had been so covered up and protected, 
probably in woollen clothing, as not to feel the effects of a winter's 
frost. Then, if these seeds germinated, there could be only a spo- 
radic case here and there if there were no atmosphere in which they 
could flourish. 

I know of but one parallel to this in the vegetable kingdom, 
although there must be many; but this I know experimentally: In 
a properly prepared bed one may raise mushrooms by impregnating 
the soil with small bits of other soil containing the reliquse of the 
growth of mushrooms, called mushroom spawn. In such a bed mush- 
rooms will be grown in quantity in a single night. If the bed is 
not properly prepared they will never grow. The bed may be made 
as rich as possible with one kind of fertilizer or dressing only, and 
mushrooms will never grow. Another bed may be made just as rich 
with another kind of fertilizer, and the mushrooms will not grow. 
But if both of these kinds of fertilizer are mixed together in one 
bed, then the mushrooms will grow and thrive wonderfully. So all 


manner of animal exhalations only in a confined atmosphere will 
produce plenty of typhus fever. Vegetable exhalations in a like 
close atmosphere will produce congestive fevers, but none of the 
typhus type. But putting together both the animal and vegetable 
exhalations under like conditions, and adding a germ of yellow fever, 
that scourge will be propagated and will permeate the territory just 
as far as the atmosphere containing those conjoint elements shall 

Fortunately for my theory, I had a confirmation of it. A little 
tug came over from Nassau, a port which was interdicted because 
the yellow fever prevailed there. The captain and his vessel being 
examined by the health officer, it was found that she was loaded with 
barrelled provisions from New York and that she had stopped at 
Nassau only to take on coal. It was sworn to, also, that she took 
on nothing else, especially no passengers, and no part of the crew 
came from Nassau. They all came from New York, and the tug 
stopped nowhere, and they all seemed to have been afraid to go on 
shore at Nassau on account of the fever. As I did not believe that 
yellow fever could be brought in soft coal, and as the tug had provi- 
sions which were needed, I allowed her to come up to New Orleans 
without the forty days' quarantine. 

About four or five days after she got to New Orleans, my medical 
director came in one morning at orderly hours with a look of great 
concern upon his face. He had never possessed faith in my ideas 
about the prevention of yellow fever. 

4 "General," said he, "I am sorry to tell you that you have got two 
cases of yellow fever down in Frenchtown." 

"Ah! Where did they come from? " 

fc l There were two passengers on board the little tug that came from 

"You must be mistaken, doctor. It was sworn expressly that 
there were no passengers on board, and certainly none from Nassau, 
and I called for the report, which was at hand. 

I found that I was right, but the oath had been false. 

"Well, doctor," I said, "here is a little order to the lieutenant 
of the provost guard to have a squad of sentries around that square 
down in Frenchtown in which these yellow fever patients are. 
Doctor MacCormick, you will post them. Let nobody go in or out 



except you accompany them or they bring my written order. 
Take your acclimated men and have those sick men attended to 
carefully. Burn everything that they see, almost, for we must 
prevent the fever from spreading if we can. Orderly, take these 
orders to the quartermaster and have him see to it that bright 


Topographical Map. 
Survey between Lake Ponchartrain and Mississippi River. 

fires at the four corners of the square are kept burning day and 
night, supplied with tar barrels and pitch, so as always to keep an 
upward current of air." 

My orders, I have no doubt, were obeyed, and the fires were kept 
burning. At the end of six days the men died. The next day 
everything in and about the building which could possibly have any- 


thing to do with yellow fever germs, was at night put on one of the 
fires. The fuel was piled about it until a very large fire was built. 
Then the whole heap was allowed to burn to ashes. Those were 
the only cases of yellow fever in New Orleans that year. 

I was obliged to cremate the bodies of the dead for the safety of 
the living, as they would have been buried above ground. Nobody 
is buried underground in New Orleans, but the places of interment 
are little brick receptacles which are not always particularly tight. 

Now I do not pretend that in all that was done by my order in 
New Orleans, exactly proper surgical and medical courses were 
taken. I do not mean to say that I used anywhere nearly correct 
and proper surgical and medical practice in my treatment of the 
disease. And I do not attempt to defend it either, as the best way 
of dealing with the yellow fever. Far be that from me. I only 
did what was the best thing I could find to do when I was obliged 
to do something. 

But I will say that in 1864, two years afterwards, I applied 
exactly the same method in the city of Norfolk, Virginia, a port 
which the yellow fever never before shunned when it came to the 
Atlantic coast. In 1857, if I get the date right, there was more 
than a decimation of its unacclimated inhabitants by the yellow 
fever, and a great many thousand dollars were subscribed that year 
by the good people of the North to aid the distressed place. It had 
not improved any in cleanliness in 1864, for it had been in military 
possession for four years by the troops of both sides, — and I am 
afraid both equally nasty, — until it was the filthiest place I ever 
saw where there were human habitations of a civilized order. 

In 1864 there were two hundred and fifty odd deserters, thieves, 
and vagabonds condemned by the military court to hard labor for a 
great many months at Fort Norfolk, which was down the river 
some distance from the city of Norfolk. On visiting them I found 
they had nothing on earth to do but to gamble all night and sleep 
all day, and they made hard labor of that. I set them to work in 
the streets of Norfolk, in the Massachusetts House of Correction 
uniform with scarlet cap, so that they could not desert, and gave 
orders that they should be required to clean the city after the 
manner of l^ew Orleans, and that they should thus work off ten days 
in every thirty of their sentences. 


I went over twice on purpose to see them after they got to work, 
and a better gang of workmen I never saw, and as far as they had 
gone, a cleaner performance was never seen. 

I observed only one thing that needed correction. The sidewalk 
was lined with a committee of citizens who amused themselves by 
chaffing the laborers. I went home and the next day the com- 
mander of the gang had an order that if any man loitered on the 
streets, talking or interfering with the laborers at work, he should 
be put into their uniform and set at work among them. That was 
done and the sidewalk committee adjourned. 

The result of it was that the experiment was more successful than 
in New Orleans. There I kept the yellow fever down at the passes, 
where whole ship's crews were dying, and where there were very 
many cases. But they were never allowed to get up beyond the 
quarantine. At Norfolk, however, military necessity required me 
to run two steamers a week backward and forward between Norfolk 
and the fever-stricken town of Newbern, North Carolina, a small 
country town on the Neuse River. Newbern is in a region sur- 
rounded by resinous pines, and I had always supposed that a more 
healthy place could not be found in North Carolina. It had never 
occurred to me that they could have yellow fever down there, 
although I knew that they had a great deal of congestive fever 
because of the lowlands in the bottom of which was the river. 
Indeed, my attention had not been drawn to that question at all, for 
Newbern was an inland town in a pine region. But to my horror 
and astonishment in the latter part of July yellow fever struck 
Newbern, and as my recollection is now, — and it will be of little 
consequence whether I am right or wrong, — one half of the people, 
white and black, died or were afflicted with this fell disease. The 
troops had to be called away from there and we lost many soldiers 
with the scourge. 

I gave orders to have extra care taken that nobody should come up 
on the boats through Dismal Swamp canal from Newbern until 
proper means of fumigation and cleansing had been taken, and I 
was fortunate enough to have no case at Norfolk. I was extremely 
solicitous to know what was the condition of things which caused 
the yellow fever in Newbern, and after the frosts came I went down 
there. When I got within two miles of the place I met an awful 


stench, as of the unclean and uncovered filth of camps. I rode 
around the town, a circle of three miles and better, and I found the 
whole town encircled with the remains and debris of the camps of 
the regiments that had been located around it. Newbern had been 
held for nearly three years by the Union and rebel troops alternately, 
commanded by officers who had been taught nothing of sanitary 

This science is not taught at West Point. The want of its proper 
application to the troops in the field kills more men than are killed 
by bullets, for it takes nearly a man's weight in lead to be shot away 
at him before he is killed. 

I found that the ditches had never been filled up, but when they 
got unbearable the colonel would move his camp. This smell of 
human excrement, itself in decay, pervaded all Newbern, in full 
conjunction with the exhalations of the decaying vegetable matter. 
I instantly ordered a force detailed to remove these nuisances and I 
have never heard, although I have made inquiry, that there has been 
a case of } r ellow fever there since, nor could I, upon inquiry, learn 
that there had ever been one before that summer. 

I have been thus particular in describing all these matters of my 
experience with the yellow fever because I have no knowledge or 
memory that it has ever been treated of before so extensively in any 
military work. Having engaged with it myself, — scientifically or 
not, yet effectually, — I have gone into all these details in the hope 
that military men and physicians will examine the question. Per- 
haps if they find that yellow fever can be controlled, someone may 
get an appointment to West Point as an instructor in a new branch 
of military science, which instruction may save a great many lives. 

In aid of this I will give another instance of the breaking out 
of yellow fever, although I cannot speak of it from personal obser- 
vation in this case, for I was not present. 

Sometime in 1876 — I may be wrong as to the date, but I will not 
be as to the facts — I heard that on the Bayou Teche, which is a 
little gut extending from the Gulf up into Louisiana, of course 
entirely filled in the summer with decaying vegetable matter and 
thus a very unhealthy place as far as congestive fevers are concerned, 
the yellow, fever suddenly burst out with greater virulence and 
destructivenesss than anywhere else. A congressional colleague of 


mine in that locality, — his name has escaped me, — wrote me to 
know what was the cause of yellow fever. I asked him whether 
there had been any decaying animal matter in that neighborhood, 
and to write me stating all the circumstances. He wrote back that 
a train of cars loaded with Texas cattle had been derailed there 
shortly before the yellow fever appeared ; a very considerable num- 
ber of the cattle had been killed and maimed, and they were skinned 
and their bodies thrown into the bayou, where they lay rotting under 
the hot sun. I wrote him at once my idea of the causes of the 
disease. There has never been any trouble with the yellow fever 
there since that time. 

I had very great credit, much more than belonged to me fairly, 
— for I hope I have stated just how much belonged to me, — for 
what I did in New Orleans in connection with the yellow fever, but 
quite as much was done in Norfolk for which I never got any credit 
at all. But whether I deserved any or not, I did the best I could. 


T must not be inferred that the several matters of which I 
treat at so much length followed one another in point 
of time. They were all going on at once, each pressing 
upon the other and each interfering with doing the 
other, and requiring the utmost industrious diligence. 
Crowding in upon us from the first moment of our 
occupation came a matter which at first seemed would 
be an annoyance only, but which speedily grew into an affair of 
most serious consequence, and one causing much discussion. This 
discussion was generally in the shape of animadversion, for the critics 
had not the slightest idea of the merits of the question at issue. 

From the second day after we landed, we had the men of New 
Orleans so completely under our control that our officers and soldiers 
could go anywhere in the city without being interfered with. I may 
say here, and challenge contradiction, in behalf of my gallant com- 
rades, that from the time we landed until the time I left New 
Orleans, no officer or soldier did any act to interfere with life, limb, 
or property of any person in New Orleans, unless acting under 
perfectly explicit orders so to do. 

One result of our conduct was that any of us, from the highest to the 
lowest, went where he pleased without insult or hostile act by any man 
in New Orleans. Insomuch was this true that for myself, I walked or 
rode by day or by night through the streets of New Orleans anywhere 
I chose between Chalmette and Carrollton without any attendant or 
guard, or pretence of one, save a single orderly in attendance. 

But not so with the women of New Orleans. On the evening of 
the third day after our occupation of the city, the colonel of the 
Thirty-First Massachusetts Regiment called upon me and said : — 



"General, as I was walking down Canal Street, a young lad, of 
say ten years, in the presence of his mother, who is the wife of one of 
the first lawyers, rushed from her side and spit all over my uniform. 
What am I to do?" 

"Nothing, Colonel; I think the matter will be easily remedied. 
Orderly, give my compliments to Mr. P. and tell him that I would 
like to see him." 

Mr. P. called on me. I had known him as a fellow-practitioner 
in the Supreme Court of the United States. I had never heard that 
he was in any way a violent secessionist, but I had heard that his 
wife was exceedingly interested on the side of the rebels, and had 
been ordered out of Washington by the Secretary of War for some 
treasonable acts. I said to him : — 

"I want to say to you that one of my officers has complained to 
me that, this afternoon your son, a boy old enough to know better, 
came from his mother's side and spit over this officer's uniform as he 
was passing by. Of course that cannot be permitted ; but, as it was 
the act of a boy and perhaps of a boy not realizing what he was 
doing, I have sent for you to say that I shall leave the correction of 
that act to you." 

Pretty soon, complaints of treatment from women of all states and 
conditions and degrees in life came pouring in upon me. When a 
soldier or an officer was passing along quietly on the sidewalk (these 
acts seemed rather the more venomous towards the officers) a woman 
coming the opposite way would turn out in the carriage way, take great 
pains to hold her skirts aside as if she feared they might be contaminated 
if they touched the soldier, and accompany this act with every possible 
gesture of contempt and abhorrence. On one occasion, a woman, when 
about to pass two officers on the sidewalk, flung herself off the sidewalk 
just before she got to them, and so impetuously that she threw herself 
down in the gutter. The two officers immediately proceeded to do what 
was their duty, — to help her up. She refused their assistance, and 
said that she would rather lie there in the gutter than be helped up 
by Yankees. She lived to repent of it afterwards, and to tell the story 
in the presence of many Yankees. Again, an officer would get into a 
street car where there were two or three women perhaps in the other 
end of the car, and they would immediately jump from the car with 
every sign of disgust, abhorrence, and aversion. 



There were five or six women leaning over a balcony on one occa- 
sion when I was riding along quite near it, with one officer only 
between me and the balcony. I was face to the front, and of course 
people turned out to see me more or less as I went through the 
streets. Just as we were passing the balcony, with something 
between a shriek and a sneer, the women all whirled around back to 
with a flirt which threw out their skirts in a regular circle like the 
pirouette of a dancer. I turned around to my aid, saying in full 

Women of New Orleans Insulting Federal Officers. 

voice : " Those women evidently know which end of them looks the 
best." That closed that exhibition. 

The question pressed upon me : How is this course of conduct to 
be changed? How is this to be stopped? We have a very few 
troops in the midst of a hostile population of many thousands, 
including more than twice our number of paroled Confederate sol- 
diers. Many of these women who do this are young, and many are 


pretty and interesting, and some have a lady-like appearance. Now, 
I know that a police officer in Boston can hardly arrest a drunken 
woman in the street without causing a very considerable excitement 
and commotion, which very quickly expands into something like a 
riot if she appeals for help and has a prepossessing appearance. Some 
of these women desire to exhibit what they call their patriotism, and 
there are many of them who would be very happy to be arrested for 
any insult put upon a Yankee officer or soldier and have it so pub- 
lished. Much more will be the danger of riot if Yankee soldiers 
arrest the women of New Orleans on the streets for the acts which 
these Avomen think proper to do as their part in carrying on the war. 
An order for arrests in these cases — simple arrests and transportation 
of " these ladies " — would be a source of perpetual turmoil at least, 
and possibly ripen into insurrection. 

I waited sometime in the hope that this epidemic among the women 
would die out. But it did not ; it increased. At last, on one Saturday, 
Flag-Officer Farragut had been invited ashore by Colonel Deming, who 
was in command of the troops in the city, to take dinner with him and 
his friends, in compliment of Farragut's great achievements. Colonel 
Deming went to the levee to meet the flag-officer when he landed, and 
they walked up arm in arm in full uniform. While going along one 
of the principal streets, there fell upon them what at first they took 
to be a sudden and heavy shower ; but it proved to be the emptying 
of a vessel of water upon them from the balcony above, and not very 
clean water at that. Of course the vessel was proof that this was 
done by one of "the ladies of New Orleans." 

A city could hardly be said to be under good government where such 
things were permitted or attempted by any class of its inhabitants. 

On the next day, the Sabbath, one of my officers dressed himself 
in full uniform, took his prayer-book in his hand, and was on the way 
to the church to attend divine service. As he was walking quietly 
along he met two very well dressed and respectable looking women, 
and, as a gentleman should, he withdrew to the outer side of the 
sidewalk to let them pass by. As he did so, one deliberately stepped 
across in front of the other and spit in his face. 

Now, what could he do ? Anything but take his kerchief and clean 
his face ? I never heard but one other suggestion, and this was made 
by one of his fellow staff, who said : " Why didn't you do something? " 


" What could I do, Davis, to two women ? " " Well, " said Davis, " you 
ought to have taken your revolver and shot the first he rebel you met." 

But, to be serious, the colonel said to me : "General, I can't stand 
this. This isn't the first time this thing has been attempted towards 
me, but this is the first time it has been accomplished. I want to 
go home. I came here to fight enemies of the country, not to be 
insulted and disgusted." 

"Oh," I said, "you can't resign. I'll put a stop to this." 

"I don't think you can do it, General," was the reply. 

I took it into very serious consideration. After careful thought 
and deliberation as to the best method of meeting this unique but 
dangerous entanglement, and running over in my mind a form for the 
order, I remembered that for the purpose of revision of city ordi- 
nances, I had once read an old English ordinance, which I thought, 
with a few changes, mutatis mutandis, might accomplish the purpose. 
There was one thing certain about it ; it must be an order that would 
execute itself, otherwise it would stir up more strife in its execution 
by the police than it would quell. Therefore, after full consideration, 
I handed to my chief of staff, to be put upon the order books, the 

following order : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, May 15, 1862. 
General Order No. 28. 

As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to 
repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New 
Orleans, in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy 
on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall, by word, 
gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of 
the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a 
woman of the town plying her avocation. 

By command of 
• Major-General Butler. 

Geo. C. Strong, A. A. G., Chief of Staff. 

Strong said, after he read it : " This order may be misunderstood, 
General. It would be a great scandal if only one man should act 
upon it in the wrong way." 

"Let us, then," was the reply, "have one case of aggression on 
our side. I shall know how to deal with that case, so that it will 


never be repeated. So far, all the aggression has been against us. 
Here we are, conquerors in a conquered city; we have respected 
every right, tried every means of conciliation, complied with every 
reasonable desire ; and yet we cannot walk the streets without being 
outraged and spit upon by green girls. I do not fear the troops, but 
if aggression must be, let it not be all against w«." 

My troops were New England soldiers, and consequently men well 
bred in every courtesy toward women, for a well behaved woman can 
safely travel alone all through New England. I did not fear that 
any one of them would conduct himself in such a way that he could 
not look me in the face and tell me of it if I asked him. I was 
not afraid on that score. I was only afraid the order would not be 
understood by the women. 

There was no case of aggression after that order was issued, no 
case of insult by word or look against our officers or soldiers while in 
NeAv Orleans. 

The order executed itself. 

No arrests were ever made under it or because of it. All the ladies 
in New Orleans forebore to insult our troops because they didn't want 
to be deemed common women, and all the common women forebore 
to insult our troops because they wanted to be deemed ladies, and of 
those two classes were all the women secessionists of the city. 

The order was, as it was intended to be, self-executing. And 
now, after all these years, I challenge the production of any authentic 
evidence that the order was not a message of good to the good, and 
of fear to the bad who required it. I do not believe any man of 
ordinary sense, of clear judgment, ever did misunderstand it or mis- 
interpret how the order intended that such women should be dealt 
with, or that it was the slightest suggestion that she be dealt with 
in any other way than being put in the hands of the police. 1 

tBrig.-Gen. M. Jeff. Thompson, M. S. G., in answer to a letter from me about his kind treat 
ment of a prisoner, gives this testimony : — 

Depot of Prisoners of War, 
Johnson's Island, near Sandusky, O., Oct. 12, 1863. 

General. —Your kind letter of the 6th instant was received on the 10th. 

You say that no one more surely than myself knows that the acts for which my government 
blames you were untruly reported and unjustly construed. What your intentions were when you 
issued the order which brought so much censure upon yourself I, of course, cannot tell ; but I can 
testify, and do with pleasure, that nearly all of the many persons who passed through my lines, 
to and from New Orleans, during the months of August and September, 1862, spoke favorably of 
the treatment they had received from you ; and with all my inquiries, which were constant, I did 
not hear of one single instance of a lady being insulted by your command. 

1 am, most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

M. Jeff. Thompson, 
Brigadier-General, M. S. G. 


It was read by Beauregard to his army at Corinth, to inflame the 
Southern heart ; but the only effect that it had upon him and them, 
so far as I have any evidence, was that almost immediately after- 
wards, on June 10 and 15, his entire army dissolved. 1 It was post 
hoc if not propter hoc. He was taken sick, resigned his command, 
and went to Bladon Springs to recover. 

Palmerston, however, got up in Parliament and denounced the 
order as unfit to be written in the English language. The only 
possible objectionable phrase in it was part of an ordinance of the 
city of London, from which I adapted it. Palmerston's indignation 
even went so far, and the women-beaters and wife-whippers of Eng- 
land were so shocked, that they called upon their government to 
represent their condemnation of the order to our State Department. 
When their minister here brought it to the attention of our Secre- 
tary of State, Mr. Seward answered him in that easy and perfect 
manner with which he could turn away an application without leav- 
ing an opportunity for the interlocutor to gather offence. I quote 
from Seward's "Life," p. 139: — 

Mr. Stewart, in a very courteous manner, verbally expressed to me the 
opinion of Her Majesty's Government, that General Butler's order con- 
cerning the females of New Orleans who gave offence to the Union soldiers 
was an improper one, in respect to the expressions employed in it. 

I answered him that we must ask his government, in reading that 
proclamation, to adopt a rule of construction which the British nation 
had elevated to the dignity of a principle and made the motto of 
their national arms — Honi soit qui mat y pense. [Evil to him who 
evil thinks.] 

I perhaps might have said the same thing as Mr. Seward, but the 
difference between him and me would have been that I should prob- 
ably have added, — " especially when a king was establishing the 
4 Order of the Garter ' as an emblem of good conduct." 

Palmerston said my government would revoke the order when it 
heard it. It did not hear of anything else for many weeks, but the 
order was never revoked, but, on the contrary, the government gave 
my administration its highest sanction. The President did not 

confer on me, however, the " Order of the Garter." 

• i ____________________ ______ — __ 

1 War Correspondence, Series I., Vol. XV., p. 501. 


On account of that order a reward of ten thousand dollars 
was offered for my head; and a gentle, soft-hearted little Southern 
lady published that she wanted to subscribe her mite to make the 
reward sixty thousand dollars, so that my head would be sure 
to be taken. 

My critic, in writing "Lincoln, a History," deems that the order 
was well enough itself, "but indefensible as a matter of taste." 
Indeed, I had hoped that I had distinguished myself in one thing, 
if no more, and that is that I did not carry on war with rose-water, 
— a pleasant thing to do, but I did not do it. That is enough to 
say, as he and myself differ upon another question of taste, to 
which I have already adverted. These women, she-adders, more 
venomous than he-adders, were the insulting enemies of my army 
and my country, and were so treated. 

I have given too much space to the necessary contact I had with 
bad women and their adventures. But I take a little space to show 
that I was capable, although denominated a beast and outlaw, of 
dealing with the good, charitable, and religious women in a manner 
worthy of myself and my government. The following letter will 
explain itself : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, Sept. 2, 1862. 

Madame : — I had no information until the reception of your note, that 
so sad a result to the sisters of your society had happened from the 
bombardment of Donaldsonville. 

I am very, very sorry that Rear- Admiral Farragut was unaware that he 
was injuring your establishment by his shells. Any injury must have been 
entirely accidental. The destruction of that town became a necessity. The 
inhabitants harbored a gang of cowardly guerillas, who committed every 
atrocity ; amongst others, that of firing upon an unarmed boat crowded with 
women and children, going up the coast, returning to their homes, many of 
them having been at school at New Orleans. 

It is impossible to allow such acts ; and I am only sorry that the right- 
eous punishment meted out to them in this instance, as indeed in all others, 
fell quite as heavily upon the innocent and unoffending as upon the 

No one can appreciate more fully than myself the holy, self-sacrificing 
labors of the sisters of charity. To them our soldiers are daily indebted 
for the kindest offices. Sisters of all mankind, they know no nation, no 


kindred, neither war nor peace. Their all-pervading charity is like the 
boundless love of " Him who died for all," whose servants they are, and 
whose pure teachings their love illustrates. 

I repeat the expression of my grief, that any harm should have befallen 
your society of sisters ; and I cheerfully repair it, as far as I may, in the 
manner you suggest, by filling the order you have sent to the city for 
provisions and medicines. 

Your sisters in the city will also farther testify to you, that my officers 
and soldiers have never failed to do to them all in their power to aid them 
in their usefulness, and to lighten the burden of their labors. 

With sentiments of the highest respect, believe me, your friend, 

Benjamin F. Butler. 
Santa Maria Clara, 

Superior and Sister of Charity. 

I had learned to reverence these good and devoted women, and 
after the war, when I had served with them in the field and learned 
more of their good offices to the soldier, I came to know fully their 
value and their devotion to their Christian duty, of which I take 
leave now to speak as I have heretofore spoken in another place : — 

They were found in every hospital doing battle against disease and 
misery, in obedience to the commands of their Master, who said : " As ye 
do unto the least of these, so also ye do unto me." Delicately nurtured 
holy women, they passed unharmed through every camp, scattering bless- 
ings in their path, looking for their reward in doing His work and adding 
to His glory. Oh, it was wonderful to see strong men become as little 
children in their hands, and put off the rough manners, and throw aside the 
rougher and harsher language of the camp, when these women came near ! 
They brought to the bedside of the wounded and dying soldier at once the 
thought of home, the ministrations of religion, and such consolation as would 
seem only could come from the hand of the great Saviour of mankind. 

Many a mother, many a sister, many a wife, owe to their assiduous care 
a son, a brother, a husband, restored to them alive, who would otherwise 
have filled one of the unknown graves that dot the hills of Virginia, the 
plains of Georgia and Tennessee, and the swamps of Louisiana and Mis- 
sissippi. These brave soldiers of the cross knew no creed, recognized no 
nationality. Their services were given, like those of their Master, to the 
human-kind. Was the sufferer before them a private soldier or a com- 
manding ^general, to them there was no difference. Confederate or 
Federal, he was their brother. 


Let us turn from this to another case where I felt obliged to rev- 
erence the motives and to yield to the entreaties of a lady of New 
Orleans, Mrs. Cora Slocomb. 

A word of the history of this lady may not be impertinent. She 
was the widow of a very wealthy iron merchant before the war. 
The course of trade brought him indebted in a very considerable 
amount to a Northern firm of iron manufacturers. One of the first 
acts of the Confederate Congress was to confiscate all debts due 
Northern people and to order them to be paid into the Confederate 
treasury for the purpose of carrying on the war. 

Mrs. Slocomb was a leader in the best society of New Orleans. 
She had undertaken to close out the business of her deceased hus- 
band. She was a very full and fervent believer in the right and 
justice of secession. She equipped from her private purse the crack 
artillery company of New Orleans, the Washington Artillery, and 
sent it to the war, one of her sons being an officer, and a son-in-law, 
Captain Urquhart, also holding a commission in that organization. 
She had subscribed very liberally in aid of the rebellion, and she 
was upon my information very much looked up to by those engaged 
in carrying it on. 

Before the city was taken, a summons was served upon Mrs. 
Slocomb by a rebel court to show cause why she should not pay into 
the treasury of the Confederacy the amount of the debt due the 
Northern creditors of her deceased husband. She answered the 
summons in person, and declared that her husband's estate owed 
that debt to the Northern firm who had credited him with it, and 
that she must pay it where it belonged and could not pay it in 
any other manner. The Confederate authorities brought upon her 
some pretty harsh pressure to change her determination. She said : 
"You may do with me what you please, but I will not disobey 
the dictates of justice and conscience." And she did not. On 
the contrary, she bought a quantity of cotton, which, if sold at 
the price paid for it, would more than have cancelled the debt 
and freight, and put it on board the schooner John Gilpin, and 
tried to send it North consigned to the creditors of her husband's 
estate. The Gilpin, however, was stayed by the Confederate 
authorities until after we took possession of New Orleans. Mrs. 
Slocomb and her daughter called upon me for a safe conduct to 


allow them to go to their country house in North Carolina, stating 
that the}^ could not take the oath of allegiance to the United 
States ; that at first they had desired the preservation of the Union ; 
that all their male friends and connections were in the Confederate 
army, and one of them had lost a son and the other a brother in 
that service; and that they were now unalterably devoted to the 
cause which they deemed just. 

I said to them that if they would consent that their house should 
go into the service of the United States, and be occupied as my 
personal headquarters, that would furnish a reason for an exception 
in their case. 

Mrs. Slocomb, her eyes flowing with tears, said that her house 
was endeared to her by a thousand tender associations and was now 
dearer to her than ever; she did not see how she could give it 
up. I said I should be glad to do anything which would be a 
favor to ladies who, while they were enemies of their country, 
were so frank, so truthful, and so devoted, but I desired to find a 
ground for an exception to my rule, and therefore suggested the 
matter of the house ; and although I had power to take it without 
their permission, it should not be occupied unless the city was 
ravaged with yellow fever, in which case I might be obliged to 
take every house suitable for hospital purposes ; but if I could find 
any other reason for an exception to my prohibiting passes to any 
who refused to take the oath I would do it. A day or two after, I 
wrote to the ladies : — 

Fliave the pleasure to inform you, that my necessities, which caused 
the request for j)ermission to use your house during your absence this 
summer, have been relieved. I have taken the house of General Twiggs, 
late of the United States army, for quarters. Inclined never on slight 
causes to use the power intrusted to me to grieve even sentiments only 
entitled to respect from the courage and ladylike propriety of manner in 
which they were avowed, it is gratifying to be enabled to yield to the 
appeal you made for favor and protection by the United States. Yours 
shall be the solitary exception to the general rule adopted, that they who 
ask protection must take upon themselves corresponding obligations or do 
an equal favor to the government. 1 have an aged mother at home, who, 
like you, might request the inviolability of hearthstone and roof-tree 
from the presence of a stranger. For her sake you shall have the pass 
you ask, which is sent herewith. As I did myself the honor to say person- 


ally, you may leave the city with no fear that your house will be inter- 
fered with by any exercise of military right ; but will be safe under the 
laws of the United States. Trusting that the inexorable logic of events 
will convict you of wrong toward your country, when all else has failed, I 
remain, etc. 

Mrs. Slocomb acknowledged the favor: — 

Permit me to return my sincere thanks for the special permit to leave, 
which you have so kindly granted to myself and family, as also for the 
protection promised to my property. Knowing that we have no claim 
for any exception in our favor, this generous act calls loudly upon our 
grateful hearts ; and hereafter, while praying earnestly for the cause we 
love so much, we shall never forget the liberality with which our request 
has been granted by one whose power here reminds us painfully that our 
enemies are more magnanimous than our citizens are brave. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Cora Slocomu. 

I may without offence give other transactions : Soon after land- 
ing in the city I proposed to furnish my officers with the houses of 
the officers of the Confederate service, for their use as quarters, and 
I. ordered therefore the seizure of those houses. A staff officer 
reported to me that he had seized the residence of General Beaure- 
gard, finding his wife and I think a sister alone occupying it. I 
was not acquainted with the general or his family, but I directed 
the house to be released, and to prevent intrusion upon the family, I 
put a sentinel at the door for a short time until matters got settled. 

It also happened that when I issued an order to confiscate all the 
money of the Confederate officers and of the Confederacy in the 
New Orleans banks, among the returns was the sum of five hundred 
dollars in the Louisiana Bank left by General Beauregard as a 
deposit for the use of his family. This I allowed to remain at their 
disposal. That is, I tried to do, not as I was done by, but as I 
would be. 

Order No. 55, levying assessments upon the subscribers to the 
"city defence fund," was to relieve the poor of the city. I found 
it necessary as a part of that relief to subscribe in support of the hos- 
pitals. In the case of the St. Elizabeth Hospital I subscribed five 


thousand dollars in money and provisions, and I subscribed from myr 
own private funds five hundred dollars and the same amount in 

I gave an order that the Charity Hospital, which was an institu- 
tion carried on by a board of trustees, should have five thousand 
dollars a month for its support besides issuing an order forbidding 
the trustees to resign their trust and abandon it. 

I was feeding the poor whites of New Orleans at a cost of fifty 
thousand dollars a month, and the negroes at a cost which I never 
knew, because they received their provisions from the supplies of 
the soldiers. 

It was impossible for me to get a request to my government and an 
answer back in less than thirty days, and usually a much longer time 
was required, so that I had no control attempted over me, except in 
the matter of my treatment of "foreign rebels." By these I mean 
men who had come here and enjoyed all our privileges and asked the 
protection of our government, and owed to it local allegiance, — 
that is, to do nothing against it while within its borders, — and 
yet while attacking it in every way were always claiming they 
should be let alone because they were neutral. 

Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, was in distress whenever I 
did anything that caused a little whipper-snapper emissary from 
some government in Europe to complain of my just treatment of a, 
man who claimed to be a consul, and this caused perpetual inter- 
ference and annoyance. Otherwise I was supreme. Having supreme 
power, I used it in the manner I have set forth. 

The poor had to be fed, the streets had to be cleaned, the pro- 
tection from yellow fever had to be made sure, and able-bodied, idle 
men had to have employment to keep them from mischief and main- 
tain their families. There was power enough to do all this, but in 
what manner could it be paid? 

To do these things required much money. True, the troops 
might be ordered to do the labor, and the money furnished by the 
United States for other necessary purposes might be diverted to that 
use. There was no appropriation upon which a requisition could be 
properly answered by the government at Washington from which to 
take it out of the taxes of the North. But nothing was further from 
my thoughts than either of these expedients. An attempt had been 











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3 « 
B 3 

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I 1 1 

VI. i 





made by me to call upon the city at least to clean the streets and pay 
therefor from the taxes, but that resource had been futile because 
the taxes could not be collected. And besides, when my order was 
published in that regard saying that the laborers should be paid a 
dollar a day, the city council, then in session, — but very soon 
after put out because of an invitation by it for the French fleet to 
come to New Orleans, — passed a resolution declaring that " when 
the city had had control of its affairs it paid one dollar and a half 
a day to its laborers; but since the United States had taken 
charge of the city, it proposed to pay only a dollar a day." To 
which I answered that in administering the affairs of the city, 
to be paid for by its tax, I thought I ought to be economical; 
but as that was to be paid for by taxation of the city, and the 
city government wanted to pay fifty cents more, I would raise the 
price to one dollar and fifty cents, although plenty of good labor 
had been employed at a dollar a day. I believe that was my last 
communication made to the city government with the expectation 
that they would do anything. 

I had the documents to show me that not long before we came, 
there had been a "city defence fund" committee organized to 
receive subscriptions and issue bonds to the amount of a million 
dollars to the subscribers to that fund, which bonds were to bear 
quite a rate of interest. These subscriptions had been paid. 

A large portion of them were those of rich foreign-born men, some 
of whom had taken the oath of allegiance to the United States, but 
almost all of whom had taken the oath of allegiance to the Confed- 
eracy. And there was another class of citizens, cotton planters, who 
had issued a paper advising that no cotton should be brought to 
the city as a matter of merchandise. 

I assumed that I should need for my expenditure a sum between 
$500, 000 and $700,000, and I ordered that an assessment equal to 
one half of the subscriptions to the "fund," and a sum equal to one 
hundred dollars for each of the offenders of the other class should be 
paid to my financial agent forthwith, with which to pay for this 
work that had been and was being done. I held that these men 
had made the expenditure necessary and therefore these men should 
pay for it. That order, it is needless to say, was enforced, and it is also 
needless to say, was the cause of protests of the foreign consuls in 


behalf of "neutral " forsworn rebels. I do not know now that I can 
put the whole matter of this highly beneficial order, its cause, execu- 
tion, and results, in better form than that in which I explained it to 
the Secretary of War officially in answer to those protests, on the 
application of the Secretary of State : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, October, 1862. 

Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War : 

Sir : — I have the honor to report the facts and circumstances of my 
General Order No. 55, in answer to the complaints of the Prussian and 
French legations, as to the enforcement of that order upon certain in- 
habitants of New Orleans, claimed to be the subjects of these respective 

Before discussing the specialty and personal relations of the several 
complaints, it will be necessary, in a general way, to give an account of 
the state of things which I found had existed, and was then existing at 
New Orleans upon its capture by the federal troops, to show the status of 
the several classes upon which General Order No. 55 takes effect. 

In October, 1861, about the time Mason and Slidell left the city upon 
their mission to Europe, to obtain the intervention of foreign powers, great 
hopes were entertained by the rebels, that the European governments 
would be induced to interfere from want of a supply of cotton. This 
supply was being had, to a degree, through the agency of the small vessels 
shooting out by the numerous bayous, lagoons, and creeks, with which the 
southern part of Louisiana is penetrated. They eluded the blockade, and 
conveyed very considerable amounts of cotton to Havana and other 
foreign ports, where arms and munitions of war were largely imported 
through the same channels in exchange. Indeed, as I have before had 
the honor to inform the Department of State, it was made a condition of 
the very passes given by Governor Moore, that a quantity of arms and 
powder should be returned in proportion to the cotton shipped. 

The very high price of the outward as well as the inward cargoes, 
made these ventures profitable, although but one in three got through 
with safety. 

Nor does the fact that so considerable quantities of cotton escaped the 
blockading force at all impugn the efficiency of the blockading squadron, 
when it is taken into consideration, that without using either of the 
principal water communications with the city through the " Rigolets " or 
the " passes " at the Delta of the river, there are at least fifty-three dis- 


tinct outlets to the Gulf from New Orleans by water communication, by 
light-draught vessels. Of course, not a pound of the cotton that went 
through these channels found its way north, unless it was purchased at a 
foreign port. To prevent even this supply of the European manufactures 
became an object of the greatest interest to the rebels, and prior to 
October, 1861, all the principal cotton factors of New Orleans, to the 
number of about a hundred, united in an address, signed with their names, 
to the planters, advising them not to send their cotton to New Orleans, 
for the avowed reason that if it was sent, the cotton would find its way to 
foreign ports, and furnish the interest *• of Europe and the United States 
with the product of which they are most in need, . . . and thus con- 
tribute to the maintenance to that quasi neutrality, which European 
nations have thought proper to avow." 

" This address proving ineffectual to maintain the policy we had de- 
termined upon, and which not only received the sanction of public opinion 
here, but which has been so promptly and cheerfully followed by the 
planters and factors of the other States of the Confederacy," the same 
cotton factors made a petition to Governor Moore and General Twiggs 
to "devise means to prevent any shipment of cotton to New Orleans 

For answer to this petition, Governor Moore issued a proclamation for- 
bidding the bringing of cotton within the limits of the city, under the 
penalties therein prescribed. 

This action was concurred in by General Twiggs, then in command of 
the Confederate forces, and enforced by newspaper articles, published in 
the leading journals. 

This was one of the series of offensive measures which were undertaken 
by the mercantile community of New Orleans, of which a large portion 
were foreigners, and of which the complaint of Order No. 55 formed a 
part, in aid of the rebellion. 

The only cotton allowed to be shipped during the autumn and winter 
of 1861 and '62, was by permits of Governor Moore, granted upon the 
express condition, that at least one-half in value should be returned in 
arms and munitions of war. In this traffic, almost the entire mercantile 
houses of New Orleans were engaged. Joint-stock companies were 
formed, shares issued, vessels bought, cargoes shipped, arms returned, 
immense profits realized ; and the speculation and trading energy of the 
whole community was turned in this direction. It will be borne in mind 
that quite two thirds of the trading community were foreign born, and now 
claim exemption from all duties as citizens, and exemption from liabilities 
for all their acts, because of fieing foreign " neutrals." 


When the expedition which I had the high honor to be intrusted to 
command, landed at Ship Island, and seemed to threaten New Orleans, 
the most energetic efforts were made by the State and Confederate 
authorities for the defence of the city. Nearly the entire foreign popula- 
tion of the city enrolled itself in companies, battalions, and brigades, 
representing different nationalities. 

They were armed, uniformed, and equipped, drilled and manoeuvred, 
and reported for service to the Confederate generals. Many of the 
foreign officers took the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States. 
The brigadier-general in command of the European Brigade, Paul Juge, 
Fils, a naturalized citizen of the United States, but born in France, 
renounced his citizenship, and applied to the French government to be 
restored to his former citizenship as a native of France, at the very time 
he held the command of this foreign legion. 

The Prussian consul, now General Reichard, of the Confederate 
army, of whom we shall have more to say in the course of this report, 
raised a battalion of his countrymen, and went to Virginia, where 
he has been promoted for his gallantry, in the rebel service, leaving 
his commercial partner, Mr. Kruttschnidt, now acting Prussian consul, 
who has married the sister of the rebel secretary of war, to embarrass 
as much as possible the United States officers here, by subscriptions 
to " city defence fund," and groundless complaints to the Prussian 

I have thus endeavored to give a faithful and exact account of the 
state of the foreign population of New Orleans, on the 15th day of 
February, 1862. 

In October, 1861, the city had voted to erect a battery out of this 
"defence fund." On the 19th of February, 1862, the city council, by 
vote published and commented upon in the newspapers, placed in the 
hands of the Confederate General Lovell, fifty thousand dollars, to be 
expended by him in the defences of the city. 

It will, therefore, clearly appear that all the inhabitants of the city 
knew that the city council was raising and expending large sums for war 

On the 20th of the same February, the city council raised an extraordinary 
" Committee of Public Safety," from the body of the inhabitants at large, 
consisting of sixty members, for the " purpose of co-operating with the 
Confederate and State authorities in devising means for the defence of the 
city and its approaches." 

On the 27th of the same February, the city council adopted a series of 
resolutions : — 


1st. Recommending the issue of one million dollars of city bonds, for 
the purpose of purchasing arms and munitions of war, and to provide for 
the successful defence of the city and its approaches. 

2d. To appropriate twenty-five thousand dollars for the purpose of 
uniforming and equipping soldiers mustered into the service of the 

3d. Pledging the council to support the families of all soldiers who 
shall volunteer for the war. 

On the 3d of March, 1862, the city council authorized the mayor to 
issue the bonds of the city for a million dollars ; and provided that the 
chairman of the finance committee might "pay over the said bonds to 
the Committee of Public Safety, appointed by the common council of the 
city of New Orleans, as per resolution No. 8,930, approved 20th of 
February, 1862, in such sums as they may require for the purchase of 
arms and munitions of war, provisions, or to provide any means for the 
successful defence of the city and its approaches." 

And, at the same time, authorized the chairman of the finance com- 
mittee " to pay over $25,000 to troops mustered into the State service, 
who should go to the fight at Columbus or elsewhere, under General 

It was to this fund, in the hands of this extraordinary committee, so 
published with its objects and purposes, that the complainants subscribed 
their money, and now claim exemption upon the ground of neutrality, and 
want of knowledge of the purposes of the fund. 

It will be remembered that all the steps of the raising of the committee 
to dispose of this fund were published, and were matters of great public 
notoriety. The fact that the bonds were in the hands of such an extraor- 
dinary committee, should have put every prudent person on his guard. 

All the leading secessionists of the city were subscribers to the same 

Will it be pretended for a moment that these persons — bankers, mer- 
chants, brokers, who are making this complaint, — did not know what this 
fund was, and its purposes, to which they were subscribing by thousands 
of dollars ? 

Did Mr. Rochereau, for instance, who had taken an oath to support the 
Confederate States, a banker, and then a colonel commanding a body of 
troops in the service of the Confederates, never hear for what purpose the 
city was raising a million and a quarter in bonds ? 

Take the Prussian consul, who complains for himself and the Mrs. 
Yogel whom he represents, as an example. Did he know about this fund ? 
He, a trader, a Jew, famed for a bargain, who had married the sister of the 


rebel secretary of war, the partner of General Reichard, late Prussian 
consul, then in command in the Confederate army, who subscribed for 
himself, his partner and Mrs. Vogel, the wife of his former partner, thirty 
thousand dollars — did he not know what he was doing, when he bought 
these bonds of this " Committee of Public Safety " ? 

On the contrary, it was done to aid the rebellion to which he was bound 
by his sympathies, his social relations, his business connections and 
marriage ties. But it is said that this subscription is made to the fund 
for the sake of the investment. It will appear, however, by a careful 
examination, that Mr. Kruttschnidt collected for his principal a note, 
secured by mortgage, in anticipation of its being due, in order to purchase 
twenty-five thousand dollars of this loan. Without, however, descending 
into particulars, is the profitableness of the investment to be permitted to 
be alleged as a sufficient apology for aiding the rebellion by money and 
arms ? If so, all their army contractors, principally Jews, should be held 
blameless, for they have made immense fortunes by the war. Indeed, 
I suppose another Jew — one Judas — thought his investment in the 
thirty pieces of silver was a profitable one, until the penalty of treachery 
reached him. 

When I took possession of New Orleans, I found the city nearly on the 
verge of starvation, but thirty days' provision in it, and the poor utterly 
without the means of procuring what food there was to be had. 

I endeavored to aid the city government in the work of feeding the 
poor ; but I soon found that the very distribution of food was a means 
faithlessly used to encourage the Rebellion. I was obliged, therefore, to 
take the whole matter into my own hands. It became a subject of alarm- 
ing importance and gravity. It became necessary to provide from some 
source the funds to procure the food. They could not be raised by city 
taxation, in the ordinary form. These taxes were in arrears to more than 
a million of dollars. Besides, it would be unjust to tax the loyal citizens 
and honestly neutral foreigners, to provide for a state of things brought 
about by the rebels and disloyal foreigners related to them by ties of blood, 
marriage, and social relation, who had conspired and labored together to 
overthrow the authority of the United States, and establish the very 
result which was to be. met. 

Farther, in order to have a contribution effective, it must be upon those 
who have wealth to answer it. 

There seemed to me no such fit subjects for such taxation as the cotton 
brokers who had brought the distress upon the city, by thus paralyzing 
commerce, and the subscribers to this loan, who had money to invest for 
purposes of war, so advertised and known as above described. 


With these convictions, I issued General Order No. 55, which will ex- 
plain itself, and have raised nearly the amount of the tax therein set forth. 

But for what purpose ? Not a dollar has gone in any way to the use 
of the United States. I am now employing one thousand poor laborers, 
as matter of charity, upon the streets and wharves of the city, from this 
fund. I am distributing food to preserve from starvation nine thousand 
seven hundred and seven families, containing thirty-two thousand four 
hundred and fifty souls, daily, and this done at an expense of seventy 
thousand dollars per month. I am sustaining, at an expense of two thousand 
dollars per month, live asylums for widows and orphans. I am aiding the 
Charity Hospital to the extent of five thousand dollars per month. 

Before their excellencies, the French and Prussian ministers, complain 
of my exactions upon foreigners at New Orleans, I desire they would look 
at the documents, and consider for a few moments the facts and figures 
set forth in the returns and in this report. They will find that out of 
ten thousand four hundred and ninety families who have been fed from 
the fund, with the raising of which they find fault, less than one tenth 
(one thousand and ten) are Americans ; nine thousand four hundred and 
eighty are foreigners. Of the thirty-two thousand souls, but three 
thousand are natives. Besides, the charity at the asylums and hospitals is 
distributed in about the same proportions as to foreign and native born ; 
so that of an expenditure of near eighty thousand dollars per month, to 
employ and feed the starving poor of New Orleans, seventy-two thousand 
go to the foreigners, whose compatriots loudly complain and offensively 
thrust forward their neutrality, whenever they are called upon to aid their 
suffering countrymen. 

I should need no extraordinary taxation to feed the j^oor of New 
Orleans, if the bellies of the foreigners were as actively with the rebels, as 
are the heads of those who claim exemption, thus far, from this taxation, 
made and used for purposes above set forth, upon the ground of their 
neutrality ; among whom I find Rochereau & Co., the senior partner of 
which firm took an oath of allegiance to support the constitution of the 
Confederate States. 

I find also the house of Reichard & Co., the senior partner of which, 
General Reichard, is in the rebel army. I find the junior partner, Mr. 
Kruttschnidt, the brother-in-law of Benjamin, the rebel secretary of war, 
using all the funds in his hands to purchase arms, and collecting the 
securities of his correspondents before they are due, to get funds to loan 
to the rebel authorities, and now acting Prussian consul here, doing quite 
as effective service to the rebels as his partner in the field. I find Mme. 
Vogel, late partner in the same house of Reichard & Co., now absent, 


whose .funds are managed by that house. I find M. Paesher & Co., 
bankers, whose clerks and employees formed a part of the French legion, 
organized to fight the United States, and who contributed largely to arm 
and equip that corps. And a Mr. Lewis, whose antecedents I have not 
had time to investigate. 

And these are fair specimens of the "neutrality " of the foreigners, for 
whom the government is called upon to interfere, to prevent their paying 
anything toward the relief fund for their starving countrymen. 

If the representatives of the foreign governments will feed their own 
starving people, over whom the only protection they extend, so far as I 
see, is to tax them all, poor and rich, a dollar and a half each for certifi- 
cates of nationality, I will release the foreigners from all exactions, fines, 
and imposts whatever. 

I have the honor to be your obedient servant, 

Benjamin F. Butler, 
Major- General Commanding. 

The government sustained Order No. 55, and upon that being 
made known to the commanding general, "on December 9, 1862, he 
issued the following order : — 

New Orleans, December 9, 1862. 

Under General Order No. 55, current series, from these headquarters, 
an assessment was made upon certain parties who had aided the rebellion, 
" to be appropriated to the relief of the starving poor of New Orleans." 

The calls upon the fund raised under that order have been frequent and 
urgent, and it is now exhausted. 

But the poor of this city have the same or increased necessities for 
relief as then, and their calls must be heard ; and it is both fit and proper 
that the parties responsible for the present state of affairs should have the 
burden of their support. 

Therefore, the parties named in Schedules A and B, of General Order 
No. 55, as hereunto annexed, are assessed in like sums, and for the same 
purpose, and will make payment to D. C. G. Field, financial clerk, at his 
office, at these headquarters, on or before Monday, December 15, 1862. 

I was relieved by General Banks six days after. As the time 
this assessment was to be paid was at the expiration of seven days, 
and I was relieved before that time, of course nobody paid the 
assessment^ according to the order. Within thirty days General 
Banks found himself under the necessity of renewing the order and 



did so. But nobody paid the slightest attention to it and nobody 
paid anything afterwards on that order, and it stands to-day unre- 
pealed, uncancelled, and unexecuted. But the necessities of the 
poor remained the same, and if they were relieved it must have been 
from some other source. But with that I have nothing to do. 

It may be remembered that I recognized a man parading in the 
mob in front of the St. Charles Hotel, wearing in his buttonhole a 
fragment of the national flag, which had been torn down from the 
mint, and that I ordered measures to be taken for his identification. 
Soon afterward he was arrested, but before he could be brought to 
trial there was another cause for a military commission. 

Six soldiers who were captured and paroled at Forts Jackson and 
St. Philip were confederating together to enlist a company to be 
known as the "Monroe Guard," Monroe being mayor of the city. 
This company, when fully organized, was to arm itself in the city 
and break through our lines and join Beauregard. These men, some 
of whom had been sergeants, were to be officers. This combination 
being brought to my notice, proper measures were taken to secure 
the prevention of its designs. The six instigators of it were brought 
before a military commission and tried for breach of parole, the 
punishment of which by military law is dea'th. This was a very 
flagrant case of such breach, because they took advantage of the 
liberty obtained by parole to plot war against the United States. 
On the 31st day of May, in pursuance of the advice of the com- 
mission as to what disposition should be made of them, an order was 
issued for their execution by hanging. 

Now, it was known in New Orleans that no capital execution had 
been had in the State of Louisiana for eighteen years, the sequence 
of which was that New Orleans had been the scene of the most 
unprovoked and unjustifiable murders which could well be imag- 
ined, with no punishment therefor. One had taken place on the day 
of my landing there. A German citizen on the levee shouted out: 
"Hurrah for the old flag.' He was immediately shot, seized and 
thrown into the river. I made many exertions to find out who did 
it, but was not able to do so. 

I had some misgivings when I gave orders for the punishment of 
these six men whether they had understood fully how great was 
their crime. Indeed, one of them said in his defence: "Paroling is 


for officers and gentlemen; we are not gentlemen." That they were 
guilty enough of bad acts toward the government, I did not doubt, 
but I questioned whether they were guilty of the precise act for 
which the sentence was invoked, for want of knowledge which 
caused that guilt. 

Immediately the cry went out that I would not dare to hang 
them. That of course I took no notice of. Their lives were very 
earnestly and eloquently besought by three good Union men whom 
I knew. They presented a petition for this purpose, signed by 
many of the known Union citizens in the place. I gave the matter 
the most serious attention, for it was the first time that the life of a 
man had depended on my single order, and I was anxious to escape 
the responsibility for their death if I might properly do so. Upon 
their representation and upon the representations made to me that 
it would be regarded as an act of pacification, shortly before the date 
fixed for the execution of the order, I respited the prisoners to hard 
labor for a long term. That was done on the 4th day of June. 

Meanwhile Mumford, who had torn down the flag, had been put 
on trial for that crime. His offence had been a most heinous one, 
and the dire results that might have arisen from it seemed almost 
providentially to have been averted. 

After the military had fled, the mayor of New Orleans informed 
Farragut, — I say Farragut, for now it is no honor to him to be 
given a title, — that as the civil authority of the city he could not 
surrender the United States mint. Farragut then ordered the 
United States flag to be placed on the government buildings as 
a token of the surrender of the city, and had it placed there 
amidst the insults poured upon his officers and men charged with 
that duty. The authorities were warned that as long as the flag 
waved there it would be understood that the city had surrendered. 
Whenever it should be taken down, that act would be a signal that 
the city had resumed hostilities and would be followed by the 
threatened bombardment. 

Farragut did not place a guard on the top of the mint for the rea- 
son that any altercation or interference with the guard might afford 
an excuse for somebody to haul down the flag. But he placed how- 
itzers in the. main-tops of his ship, the Hartford, with guns' crews 
to watch the flag. These men were instructed that if any persons 


were seen to interfere with it or take it down, to open fire upon 
them with the howitzers. This would be a signal for the Hartford 
to open fire upon the city, which would be followed by a fire along 
the line of the whole fleet, which lay broadside on. 

On Sunday morning, Farragut called his officers and crew below 
in religious service to give thanks to the Almighty for His preser- 
vation of them in the great dangers and perils to which they had 
been exposed. The services were solemnly going on under his 
direction, when the guns from the main- tops bearing on the flag 
were discharged. Instantly everybody ran on deck and went to his 
post. Every gun was manned and the lanyards of the locks of some 
of them were pulled. But a wonderful happening had taken place. 
The careful ordnance officer, before he went down, cast his eye 
upon the heavens and saw portents of rain. He therefore went 
around the battery, took out of the vents all the wafers by which the 
guns were fired, and placed them in a receptacle where they would 
be kept dry. Consequently no gun answered fire when the lan- 
yards were pulled. Seeing that those who had taken the flag down 
had run away and that there was no movement of anybody, Farragut 
paused, and so the city was saved from bombardment. 

Farragut sent his boat ashore to ascertain why the flag had been 
taken down and was informed that it was done by some person 
wholly unauthorized. A party headed by Mumford had torn down 
the flag, dragged it through the streets and spit on it, and trampled 
on it until it was torn to pieces. It was then distributed among 
the rabble, and each one thought it a high honor to get a piece 
of it and wear it. 

It has been said that I had no right to take any notice of this act 
because it was done before I got there. But it was the flag of the 
United States, and it had been placed there by Farragut after he 
took possession of the city. Upon that point I never had any con- 

Although he had been clearly convicted of this offense against the 
laws of war and his country, yet it was not believed by the rebels 
that Mumford would be executed. He was at the head of the gam- 
blers of New Orleans, and was a man of considerable education, 
some property, and much influence with the lower class. It was 
said that Butler would never dare hang him, and when the parole 


offenders had been respited on the 4th of June, and Special Order 
No. 10 was issued on the 5th of June commanding that Mumford 
be executed on the 7th of June between 6 A. M. and 12 m., the 
order was received by the populace almost with derision. 

No good man petitioned for his release, but the bad men, the 
blacklegs and blackguards, assembled in large numbers and voted 
that he should not be executed, and that if he was executed Butler 
should die the death by any and every possible means. They 
thought some of selecting a committee to so notify me, but upon 
consideration it was found that it was not a popular committee upon 
which to serve, and it was not done But it was agreed that I 
should be notified by anonymous letters, and accordingly they sent 
me forty or fifty the next morning, in almost every language and 
every degree of literature, accompanied by illustrations of pistols 
and coffins and cross-bones and skulls, to intimidate me. 

Indeed, their performances frightened one man besides myself. 
He was my secret service man, who had attended the meeting and 
made a speech in behalf of my being shot. He was rather unmer- 
ciful. He returned from the gathering about ten o'clock at night, 
and told me what had taken place and said that I was in the utmost 
danger if I had Mumford executed. I told him that was where 
we differed; I thought I should be in the utmost danger if I did 
not have him executed, for the question was now to be determined 
whether I commanded that city or whether the mob commanded it. 

"Why, General," said he, "I know how much more virulent and 
determined they are than you think them. I must ask you to do 
one thing for me if you mean to hang Mumford; give me what 
money I ought to have, and give me an order so that I may go away 
at once before the execution. For should it be found out that I had 
been in your service at any time, whether you were alive or dead, 
my life would not be safe a minute, and I want to go north.*' 

I said, "Very well," and paid him and gave him an order on his 
captain to send him north by the first vessel, as if Ke were sent away. 
I frankly admit that I was frightened myself. I was sensible that 
I should be subjected probably to every kind of machination and 
intrigue for my death if I did my duty. I gave more attention that 
night to the .question of Mumford' s execution than I did to sleep, 
but I came to a conclusion satisfactory to my own mind. 


On the afternoon of the next day I got a note saying that Mrs. 
Mumford and her children wished me to see them. 1 stepped into 
the parlor and told the orderly to bring them in and close the door 
and to see that I was not disturbed until I called for him. Mrs. 
Mumford in a proper way began to intercede for her husband and 
the father of her children. She wept bitterly, as did the children, 
who fell about my knees, adding all those moving acts which per- 
haps they had been instructed to say and do, or which perhaps 
naturally came to them. I was obliged to answer their mother that 
I wished it could be permitted to my sense of duty to reprieve her 
husband, but that it could not be. I told her that I had given it 
every thought and had considered it in. every aspect ; that while 
this scene was very painful to me, yet it could not alter my deter- 
mination; that I was very sorry at the great affliction that was to 
come to her and her children, and that if in the future I could in 
any way alleviate that harm, she would not find, I hoped, as 
obdurate an ear as I was obliged to give her now. 

" I hear Mumford believes he will not be executed, " I said, " and 
I am told he is making no preparations for his death. Now, I think 
the greatest kindness you can do him is to let me ring for my car- 
riage and send you to the jail. I will give an order for your admis- 
sion to his room, or that you and your family may meet him in any 
room in the jail that will be most convenient for you. I wish you 
to convince him that he is mistaken and that he will be executed. 
Whether I live or die he will die ; and let him in the few hours he 
has to live look to his God for pardon." 

I called the orderly, reached the order for their admission to the 
lieutenant of the guard, and my carriage took the wife and family 
to the jail where they spent the remainder of the night, or as long 
as they chose, with the condemned man. Still they could not con- 
vince Mumford that I was really in earnest, and the people appar- 
ently were not any more convinced than himself. I afterwards 
learned that he asked the officer in charge not to give the order 
until the latest minute possible. 

Imitating the Spanish custom as to the place of execution, which 
places it as near as possible to the spot where the crime was 
committed, I had ordered it to take place from the mint, with 
the flag of the United States, the companion of which he had 



desecrated, floating over him. The place was almost in sight 
of my office. Mumford was permitted to stand upon the scaffold 
and make a speech as long as he chose. In it he claimed that 
he was impelled _ by the highest patriotism. A swearing, whiskey- 
drinking mob assembled below him, their bottles and pistols 
sticking out from their pockets when not in their hands. They 
kept declaring to each other that Mumford was not to be hanged, 
and that this was only a scare on the part of old Butler, and 

The Mint at New Orleans. 

threatened what the people would do if he was hanged. The 
street was quite full of them, almost to my office. At the last 
of it they got quite uneasy, the eyes of Mumford being lifted up 
the street to see if some staff officer did not come riding down, 
bearing the order of reprieve. 

Dr. William N. Mercer was one of the best gentlemen in the 
city. Although a secessionist, he was a very mild one, holding 


the doctrine that the Southern States had no right to secede, but 
that we had no right to force them not to. He was eighty years 
old, president of the Bank of Louisiana, and a man with whom I 
had formed the most friendly relations. A little before ten o'clock 
he almost rushed into my office, where I was sitting alone with 
my stenographer, and, reaching out his hands, tears running down 
his cheeks, said : — 

"O General, General, give me this man's life. I must soon go 
to meet my Maker; let me take with me that I have saved a fellow- 
creature's life. You can do it, you can do it." 

"No, Doctor," I said, "it is your life, and my life, and the life 
of every good man in this city which I must save. The question is 
now to be settled whether law and order or a mob shall govern." 

"Oh, no, General; a scratch of your pen will save him." 

" True, Doctor, and a scratch of that same pen would put you in his 
place. My officers are loyal and true, and they won't question the 
reason of my order. They will obey first and question it, if at all, 
afterwards. Having this great power I must use it judiciously. I 

The old man, his tears falling like rain, turned and left me. 

The looked-for staff officer did not come to the place of execution. 
At the appointed time the drop fell, and as it did there was a uni- 
versal hush. The bottles and pistols went out of sight, and the 
crowd separated as quietly as if it were from the funeral of the most 
distinguished citizen. And no scene approaching general disorder 
was ever afterwards witnessed during my time. 

The fate of Mumford caused the greatest excitement throughout 
the whole Confederacy. Threats of retaliatory vengeance came 
from the governor of Louisiana, and were circulated by all the 
cognate rascals south of Mason and Dixon's line, including 
Jefferson Davis. Mumford' s wife and family were declared to be 
the sacred trust of the people, and his children the wards of the 
Confederacy. Subscription papers were immediately called for, 
and very considerable sums were raised to support them thereafter 
in comfort. 

The reader may be interested to know how well this was carried 
out. I heard and thought nothing more upon the subject, except 
as a passing reflection, until about the year 1869, the date not 


recollected, when I received a letter from a lady in Maiden, 
Massachusetts. She wrote me in very dignified and proper terms 
that she was somehow interested in Mrs. Mnmford, who was then 
in the greatest distress. Mrs. Mumford had written to her that 
at the time of the execution of her husband I had told her that 
if ever I could soften her troubles I would be glad to help her, 
and she asked her Massachusetts friend to send to me to ascertain if 
I would see her. 

I immediately answered I would see Mrs. Mumford any time at 
my office in Washington. A few days later her card came to me 
and she was shown in. She had aged somewhat. I told her that 
I had received a letter from her friend and asked the purpose of her 
visit. She then told me that a very considerable amount of money 
had been subscribed for her, but being in Confederate money it did 
not amount to much. At last it was entrusted to some man, a 
clergyman I think, who concluded to take it and build a house in 
Wytheville, Virginia, for her and her children, of whom there were 
three or four. He had purchased two acres of land and had a house 
built upon it. The work was nearly finished, when her trustee ran 
away, leaving a mechanic's lien upon the building of something 
more than eighty dollars, and the land and buildings were now to be 
sold to satisfy that lien. 

" Where are you living now ? " I asked. 

She said she had come to Alexandria and was staying there with a 
friend, waiting to see me. 

" Can you wait there without difficult}' until I can send down and 
see about this matter at Wytheville ? " 

She said she would thankfully, and that I would find her story 

I immediately sent to Col. Thomas Tabb, of Hampton, Virginia, 
who had been a Confederate officer, and who had afterwards been 
my counsel in some matters of moment. I wrote him the story 
and asked him to investigate it and to purchase the title to that 
house in the name of Mrs. Mumford, and charge the amount to me, 
and telegraph me if it was all right. He telegraphed me within a 
day or two that the matter was as I had supposed, and he would 
attend to ifr. The morning I got that despatch, Mrs. Mumford came 
again to my office. I told her what had been done. She expressed 


great thankfulness and said that she would go home to Virginia 
and get into her house and try to live in it. 

"How?" asked I. 

"Oh, we will try to raise enough on the two acres to live on." 

"You cannot raise enough to live on very soon; have you no 
other resource ? " 

"I have not." 

"Is there any school in Wytheville in which to educate your 
boys ? " 

"No, sir." 

"You think they ought to be educated, don't you? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" You have been very profuse in your thanks to me for what I 
have done," said I. "I wish you would put your expressions in 
writing, and write them as well as you can. I am going out to be 
gone ten or fifteen minutes, and will see you when I return." 

I came back after a little time, and she handed me the note very 
nicely and quite clerkly written. "Well," I said, "I think I may 
be able to do something for you. Come back day after to-morrow 
and I will see what I can do." 

The next day I called upon the Commissioner of Internal Rev- 
enue and asked him if he had a vacancy for a woman who wrote a 
good hand and spelled well and was fully educated up to that class 
of duties. 

" I am a good deal pressed, " he said, " but possibly I can make an 

"Well," I said, "Mr. Commissioner, mine is a very special 
case and I want you, if possible, to do it/' I then told him the 
story and said : " You see I do not care to have a recommendation 
from me to go upon your files. She will keep her own name 
and that had better not be connected with mine so as to draw 

" Very well, " he said, "her place will be a nine hundred dollar 
position. Send her with your card and she shall have it, and if she 
deserves it she shall hold it." 

She rented her house in Wytheville and took a small house in 
Washington. I saw her once in about six months or a year after 
that. She turned out to be a very good clerk, and was not dis- 


turbed until the coming in of the "reform" administration of Mr. 
Hayes. Then there was a search made for places to put in the 
"reformer's" nieces, and the records were examined to see who 
were behind clerks as to "influence." The list showed nobody 
behind Mrs. Mumford, and, the commissioner having been changed, 
of course she was "reformed out." 

She.informed me. I visited the Treasury Department, the Depart- 
ment of the Interior, and the Agricultural Department to see if she 
could not be restored to a place. I found it utterly impossible until 
I visited a " rebel brigadier, " General Key, then Postmaster-General, 
and told him the story. He gave her a clerkship in his department, 
and there she remained as long as she chose to stay in office, so far as I 
know. I saw the boys from time to time. They called to see me 
with their mother and they seemed to be very gentlemanly and 

I had one other occasion, while ill New Orleans, to administer 
capital punishment. I certainly had no desertions reported to me 
that required it. The circumstances of this case are peculiar 
enough for narration. 

For something over a week prior to the 12th of June, 1862, there 
had been continued complaint made at my headquarters of burglaries 
and robberies committed in the night time in many houses and in 
many parts of the city. No clew was brought to me by which the 
offenders could be ascertained, and it became a very annoying 
scandal and disgrace. On the morning of the 12th I said at mess 
table: "This system of night thieveries must be put an end to, and 
I am going to attend to nothing else, routine duty excepted, until 
it is done." 

When I got to my office in the Custom House about nine 
o'clock, a respectable looking Spanish gentleman sent in his card, 
came in, and said to me that his house on Toulouse Street had 
been entered tjie night before in this way: An officer in the 
full uniform of a lieutenant came in and produced an order to 
search the house for arms. The officer had four men with him, 
and they searched everything in the house, evidently looking 
more carefully after pistols than guns. When they went away 
they gave t*he owner a certificate of search. This certificate read 
as follows : — 


J. William Henry, first lieutenant of the Eighteenth Massachusetts 

Volunteers, has searched the premises No. 93 Toulouse Street, and 

find to the best of my judgment that all the people who live there are 

loyal. Please examine no more. 

J. William Henry, 

Lieut. Eighteenth Mass. Vols. 

The complainant said they took all the jewelry in the house and 
somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 in money, but how much 
there was of either he could not tell. 

Looking at the certificate I saw at once that it was a forgery, 
because I had no Eighteenth Massachusetts regiment. I looked at 
the complainant in some despair, and said : — 

"Did you notice anything that you can tell me by which I can 
trace the men ? " 

"They went away in a cab." 

" In the name of heaven, my man, did you get the number of the cab?" 

"Yes, General, cab No. 50." 

" Sit down there, then. Orderly, call the lieutenant of the pro- 
vost guard. Send and catch cab No. 50, and the driver, and bring 
them here. Don't ride in his cab, but walk on the sidewalk and 
let him keep pace with you." 

Very soon the orderly entered with the driver of cab No. 50. 

"Did you drive any party last night?" 

"Yes, General." 


"Number 93 Toulouse Street." 

"Did the party go in there ? " 

"Yes; all but one who stayed in the cab." 

" Were they gone some time ? " 

"Yes, General." 

"What did they do then ? " 

" They all loaded into the cab and I drove them to a coffee-house 
on the corner of ," naming the streets. 

"You sit down there. Lieutenant, take a party of the provost 
guard and go to this coffee-house, and bring to me every live thing 
in it including the cat, and don't let one speak to the other until 
after they have seen me." 


In the course of three quarters of an hour the officer reported that 
he had the prisoners I had sent for. 

"Bring them in in single file, and march them around this room." 

As they were being marched before me, the face of one of them 
caught my eye and I knew I had seen it before. I rarely forget 
a face. 

"Halloa, my man," I said, "where have I seen you before? " 

"In Boston, General." 


"In court," 

" Which one of your crimes were you being tried for there ? " 

" Burglary, General . " 

"Well, you were tried for burglary there and convicted? " 


" And pardoned out of State Prison to enlist in the army, and you 
did so?" 


" What regiment ? " 

"The Thirtieth." 

" Are you of that regiment now ? " 

"No; I have been discharged on account of a rupture." 

"Very well; having been convicted of burglary and pardoned 
once and now caught here robbing houses again, can you show 
any reason why you should not be hanged at once to save all 
further trouble ? " 

"Oh, don't do that, General; I will tell you all about it," 

The room was cleared, and lie began, under a caution to tell the 
truth, because lying to me was a sin I never pardoned. He said that 
there was a party of seven of them who had formed a secret society 
under an oath. They had organized and gone around the last 
two weeks searching houses for arms, and getting everything they 
could. They had visited eighteen different houses. He gave 
me the names of the band and the places where the men lived. 
They did not all live at this coffee-house. Three of them we had 
not caught. They were immediately sent for and brought in. I 
recognized one of them as being the mate of my steam yacht. 
Three confessed that night and signed a written confession, and the 
property was substantially all recovered. A notice was put in the 


newspapers for everybody whose house had been robbed to come 
to the provost marshal's office and identify their property and take 
it. Everything was restored except three or four hundred dollars 
that they had spent out of the money. They had up to that time 
made no division of spoils. 

I then, by General Order 98, sentenced three of them to be 
executed at the parish prison on the 16th. The next day I tried 
the rest of them and they were convicted, and substantially confessed 
all. Five of them in all were condemned to execution. One, a 
boy, at the intercession of his mother and upon evidence that he 
had not been a bad boy before his connection with the gang, and 
being only a sort of page for them, I sentenced to prison for a short 
term. The man that confessed and turned State's evidence, as is 
the phrase, I sentenced to Ship Island at hard labor for five years. 

The rebel cry went all over the city: "These men won't be 
hanged, although Mumford was. One of them is an officer on the 
General's yacht, and he will be smuggled off." At ten o'clock on 
the day fixed for the hanging it would seem as if one half of the city 
had turned out to witness the spectacle. The executions duly took 

From that hour no burglary was ever committed in New Orleans ; 
at least none was ever complained of. There were no incendiary 
fires there, and, what was more wonderful, there was no assault with 
attempt to kill. The only crimes tried by the provost court were 
petty larcenies and assaults, and the city from Chalmette, its 
southern boundary, to Carrollton, its northern limit, was more safe 
by night or by day than any city in the United States at the present 

After my return to the North, the case of the mate's wife was 
stated to me as one of destitution, and I directed that a sewing 
machine, which it was claimed she needed, should be purchased and 
given to her. 

The effect of this speedy and condign punishment of offenders, the 
course of justice marching steadily on, coupled with a belief which 
prevailed in New Orleans that nothing could be done there that I 
could not find out, — a belief which I fostered as much as I could, 
— was the secret of the peace and quiet which pervaded the city. 
It was supposed I had the best spy system in the world. That was 


true, but not in the way it was supposed. The negroes all came 
and told me anything they thought I wanted to know. I never let 
it be known that one of them spoke to me upon any subject. I had 
nobody else hear that class of informers. They would tell me the 
exact truth, so far as they understood it, and if it was anything of 
worth, they received from my hands some small compensation. 

Let me give two examples of the manner in which that system 

Early in June I was informed that there was a sewing " bee " in 
the house of one of the first ladies of New Orleans and that they 
were making a flag to send to a New Orleans regiment in Beaure- 
gard's army at Corinth. This flag was of the finest embroidered silk, 
trimmed with gold fringe and very handsomely ornamented. After 
I got the information I waited quietly until the flag was finished 
and a nice canvas case made for it. This case was also embroidered, 
as one doesn't want an unfinished flag. Then I sent an orderly with 
my carriage to the house of the lady. He was instructed to present 
General Butler's compliments to her, with the message that the 
general's carriage was at the door and he desired to see her at once. 
No harsher demand for the appearance of a person was ever sent by 
me, except in the case of an immediate arrest. I held that the 
invitation of the sovereign was equivalent to a command. 

A handsomely dressed lady, who seemed forty but might have been 
fifty, was shown into the office and handed a seat. I took a paper in 
my hand and looking at it said : — 

"Is this Mrs. ?" 

"Yes, General." 

"Living at No. — , — Street?" 


" Well, madam, my information is that you have been having a 
series of sewing "bees ' at your house by a party of young secession 
girls, making a flag to be sent to Beauregard's army. I have occa- 
sion for such a flag on the Fourth of July. I hear there is to be a 
Sabbath school celebration of the children of my town and I want to 
send a Confederate flag up there to please them, for they have never 
seen one. Won't you please go with my orderly and get that flag 
and bring it'here ? " 

Her look of astonishment was ludicrous. She gasped out: — 


" General, you must be mistaken ; you have been misinformed as 
to the person/' 

"Madam, if I were you I wouldn't deny that which you know 
and I know. You have had that flag made ; it is finished and in 
your house ; and I should get it from there now, as I have seen fit to 
move about it, if I had to take down your house from roof to hearth- 
stone. Now, please don't let us have any fuss made about the 
matter and require that I shall have to send down a party of soldiers 
to get it, because you will know that I know where it is when I tell 
you where it is. It served as a bolster under your pillow last night. 
Orderly, take this lady to the house from which you brought her 
and keep her in sight until you return her here." 

In a short time the orderly returned, bringing what appeared to be 
a handsome case for a flag. I opened the case by releasing the 
gathering cord at the top and produced a very handsome flag, rolled 
up. I looked at it, thrust it back into the case, and threw it to 
one side. 

4 Yes," said I, "that is the one I want. I don't want any more; 
and I wouldn't make any more if I were you. If I should happen 
to want another I will send to you, for this is a very beautiful one. 
You can go, madam." 

" May I ask you a question, General ? " she gasped out. 

"Oh, certainly; I will answer it if a proper one." 

"' Which of those girls gave information about this flag ? " 

"Oh, I can't tell you that, madam, because they would not come 
and tell me anything more if I did." 

" I know, I know, " said she ; " one of them has been seen walking 
with a Yankee officer." 

"I have no objection to you secession women eating each other 
like Kilkenny cats ; I have nothing to do with that. But you may 
accuse her unjustly. It may be your servants, which I suppose you 

"No, it was not my servants, General; that won't do. The 
only one of my family that knows anything about it is my foster 
sister, the daughter of my nurse brought up with me from the 
same breast." 

" Oh, well, I am glad to hear you have such faithful servants, " 
and she left. It was her foster sister all the same who was my 


informer, and she did it without hope of reward, and only to revenge 
herself on her foster mistress. 

I had issued an order that there should be no meetings or convoca- 
tions held except by my permission, save of the fire companies and 

About eleven o'clock one night a good-looking, well-dressed negro 
servant applied to see me. I was about retiring, but said he might 
be sent in. 

" General, " said he, " I have just come from a party of gentlemen. 
There were fourteen of them. They have been having a dinner, and 
they have abused you and the United States, and swore about you 
and said all manner of hard things about you. I know it, for I was 
waiting on the table all the evening, and I took notice so as to tell 

k 'Do you know their names? " 

"Yes, sir." 

4 * Where their places of business are?" 

"Yes, sir." 

The bell was touched for a stenographer, who took down the 
names and addresses of all the members of the party. A five-dollar 
gold piece was given to the negro and he was dismissed, his name 
and address being taken. 

In the morning the names of all the persons composing the party 
were given to an orderly, who was instructed to call on each of 
them, letting no one of them know that he was going to call upon 
the other, and give each my compliments and say that I would be 
glad to see him at my office at four o'clock sharp. 

At four o'clock the orderly opened the door, and touching his cap,, 
said : — 

" General, the men that you ordered here are in waiting.'' 

1 ordered them shown in, and they arranged themselves around 
the room. There was an expression of eager curiosity on the face 
of each. 

" Gentlemen, " said I, "I trust I know the habits of good society 
well enough not to take much notice of what is done and said at a 
social dinner party, when the wine is in and the wit is supposed 
to be out. • My information is, and you know whether it is correct 
or not, that you were assembled last night in direct disobedience of 



a general order, as you know, and the dinner party was an excuse 
for the assemblage, and that you amused yourselves by abusing me. 
That is not of much consequence; I forgive you that. But you 
abused your government and mine, and you used terms about it and 
about the President and members of the government that I can't 
permit. You supposed that I could not know of it. Nothing passes 
here, worth knowing, that I don't know about, as you see. But, 
gentlemen, this was mere folly; it did neither good nor harm to 
anybody, and I shall take no further notice of it unless something of 
the kind is somewhere done again, and if it is I will surely give you 
notice of it. Good day, gentlemen. I hope I shall not have to. 
trouble you further." 

And they departed, every man inquiring in his own mind which 
one of that party told. 



JIE question must have arisen in the mind of the reader, 
in poring over the administration of these many civil 
affairs : Were military operations delayed while these 
things were being done? 

By no means. Farragnt and myself were ordered 
to do two things, if we could; first, to open the 
Mississippi River; second, to capture Mobile. Now, the capture of 
Mobile was of no earthly military consequence to anybody. It was 
like the attempted capture of Savannah, Port Royal, Fernandina, 
Brunswick, and Charleston, in which places the lives of so many 
good men were sacrificed. These places could all have been held 
by a few vessels under the command of vigilant, energetic, and 
ambitious young naval officers. 

The absolute inability of the Confederacy to have a navy or 
any force on the sea, ought to have suggested to us a militia 
navy for coast protection and defence. Then there could have 
been an early concentration of our troops into large armies for the 
purpose of instruction and discipline; and as almost every part of 
the Confederacy was penetrable to a greater or less degree by 
means of rivers, our armies should have marched by water to a 
very much greater extent than they did. Now, the great water 
communication of the whole West, through the Mississippi, was to 
be opened to the sea at all hazards. 

New Orleans was now invincible to any land force so long as our 
navy occupied the river and Lake Pontchartrain, and so long as the city 
was held fey five thousand men who had nothing else to do. A single 
ten-gun sloop off Manchac Pass rendered it impossible for the city to 



be taken by land so long as Lake Pontchartrain was held by 
our light-draught gunboats. Therefore, it was agreed between the 
admiral and myself that with his main fleet he should go up 
the river as far as he could, and that I should give him the 
troops needed to occupy the places that he could take with his fleet. 
Thereupon he left directly, and seized Baton Rouge. Here we 
left some two thousand men, more because it was a healthy location 
than for any particular military usefulness. We concluded to 
make no fortification there. 

Farragut passed Port Hudson, where there were at that time 
no considerable defences. He had determined to look upon Vicks- 
burg as the only place where a fortified stronghold was substantially 
possible for the protection of the surrounding country. The fleet 
accordingly went on. 

We at once agreed — and General Williams acquiesced upon 
observation — that the easier way of passing Vicksburg was to make 
a short canal across the peninsula that faced the city and thus turn 
a current of water through this channel. It was believed that such 
a canal would soon shorten the river, leaving Vicksburg and its 
possible fortifications some three miles inland. The project was 
undertaken, and it might have been successfully carried out had not 
a sudden fall of several feet in the height of the river rendered it 
impossible to dig the canal deep enough. 

To capture by assault with Williams' brigade was not practicable, 
and as Vicksburg was found to be within the territorial lines of the 
department of General Halleck, the admiral thought it was his duty 
and his right to at least ask Halleck to furnish men enough to co- 
operate with the navy, and, in conjunction with Williams, to make 
the attack. 

Now, mark: Vicksburg was the most important point in the 
country to be captured. Farragut was above it with his fleet, 
having run by it. If Halleck, when he moved from Corinth, had 
sent any considerable force from Corinth to the rear of Vicksburg 
to cut off supplies, — as our fleets were both above and below 
the town — it might have been starved out in twenty days, as 
Grant a year afterwards captured it by starvation of its forces, 
after he had lost many men in assaults, and from the unheal thiness 
of the region. Ellet with his fleet had captured Fort Pillow; 


and the river would have been opened from St. Louis down to the 
sea, if Halleck had complied with Farragut's request. This was 

Farragut's letter: — 

Aboard Flag-Boat, 
Above Vicksburg, June 28, 1862. 
Major- General Halleck : 

Sir : — I have the honor to inform you that I have passed the batteries 
and am now above Vicksburg with the greatest part of my fleet. I drove 
the men from the batteries, but they remained quiet till we passed, and 
then they up again and raked us. They have some eight regiments, or 
ten thousand troops, to replenish the batteries and prevent us from landing. 
Brigadier-General Williams is acting in concert with me, but his force is too 
small to attempt to land on the Vicksburg side, but he is cutting a ditch across 
the peninsula to change the course of the river. My orders, General, are to 
clear the river. This I find impossible without your assistance. Can you 
aid me in this matter to carry out the peremptory order of the President? 
I am satisfied that you will act for the best advantage of the government 
in this matter, and shall therefore wait with great anxiety your reply. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet, who has kindly offered to co-operate with me in 
any way in his power, has also offered to send this despatch to you. 

I remain, with respect, your obedient servant, 

D. G. Farragut, 
Flag- Officer Commanding} 

Stanton had already addressed Halleck on the same subject on the 
23d of June, and this communication, here given, must have reached 
Halleck even before he received Farragut's letter: — 

[ Telegram.'] War Department, June 23, 1862. 

Major-General Halleck, Corinth : 

If you have not already given your attention to the practicability of 
making a cut-off in the rear of Vicksburg I beg to direct your attention 
to that point. It has been represented to the Department to be an 
undertaking of easy accomplishment, especially under the protection of 
gunboats. A despatch to-day received from General Butler speaks of it as 
a project contemplated by him, but he may not have a force to spare. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 

Secretary of War. 2 

i War Records, Vol. XV., p. 514. 2 War Records, Vol. XV., p. 494. 


Halleck answered Farragut's letter on the 3d of July as follows : — 

Corinth, July 3, 1862. 
Flag-Officer Farragut, 

Commanding U. S. Flotilla in the Mississippi : 

The scattered and weakened condition of my forces renders it impos- 
sible for me at the present moment to detach any, to co-operate with you 
on Vicksburg. Probably I shall be able to do so as soon as I can get my 
troops more concentrated. This may delay the clearing of the river, but 
its accomplishment will be certain in a few weeks. Allow me to con- 
gratulate you on your great successes. 

H. W. Halleck, 

Major- General. 1 

On the 15th of July Halleck sent the following communication to 
the Secretary of War in answer to his letter : — 

Corinth, Miss., July 15, 1862, 
10.40 A. M. 
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War : 

I cannot at present give Commodore Farragut any aid against Vicksburg. 
I am sending reinforcements to General Curtis in Arkansas, and to Gen- 
eral Buell in Tennessee and Kentucky. 

H. W. Halleck, 

Major- General? 

Now let us look a moment at the position of Beauregard's army, 
the only great force against Halleck. Both armies had lain for 
months in the condition of two men where one is afraid to fight and 
the other dares not. Halleck says his troops were "not concen- 
trated." Why were they not? 

On the 10th of June Beauregard wrote to Lovell, commanding at 
Vicksburg, as follows : — 

With regard to Vicksburg, as already stated, I regard its fate as 
sealed. You may defend it for awhile to hold the enemy at bay, but it 
must follow ere long the fate of Fort Pillow. 

How important Davis thought Vicksburg was, is shown by his 
letter of the 14th of June, 1862, to General Smith, commanding at 
Vicksburg: — 

1 War Records, Vol. XV., p. 517. 2 War Records, Vol. XV., p. 519. 


Richmond, Virginia, June 14, 1862. 
Brig.-Gen. M. L. Smith, Vicksburg, Miss.: 

What progress is being made toward the completion of the Arkansas ? 
"What is the condition of your defence at Vicksburg ? Can we do any- 
thing to aid you? Disasters above and below increase the value of your 
position. I hope and expect much from you. 

Jefferson Davis. 

On the 2 2d of June General Bragg ordered to Vicksburg the first 
reinforcements, six thousand of Breckinridge's corps. 

On the 26th Van Dorn, who was left in command of Beauregard's 
army, removed his headquarters to Vicksburg, only to be immedi- 
ately superseded by Bragg, who was in command of the department. 

On the 1st of June, Beauregard with all his army was in full 
retreat from Corinth. On the 17th, he abandoned his command and 
went to Bladen Springs, near Mobile, sick. Davis seems to have 
found some fault with Beauregard for retreating, but Beauregard 
says, "it was a brilliant and successful retreat," which is about as 
good as a retreat can be. 

Halleck had an army before Corinth, on June 1, of ninety-five 
thousand men for duty. On the same day, Beauregard's command, 
covering the Army of the Mississippi, and the Army of the Depart- 
ment of the West, and some troops staying at Columbus, Mississippi, 
amounted in all to fifty-four thousand men for duty. These figures 
are from the official War Records, Volume X., Part I-II, p. 382. 

On the 19th of July some of Halleck 's forces were en route to 

How can these statements of Halleck be reconciled with each 
other, and with the facts ? If he desired to serve the country, they 
show that he was utterly careless of his duty, for I take leave to 
repeat that there was nothing so important to be done at that time 
for the cause of the Union as to capture Vicksburg and open the 
river. A careful examination shows that there were not four thou- 
sand available armed men between Vicksburg and Halleck. Lovell 
says that his "troops were indifferently armed." 

The truth is not to be disguised that Halleck did not want to cap- 
ture Vicksburg, because then he would have had to share the honor 
with Farragut and his fleet. He never moved a man toward it, 


although he promised to so do. He was ordered so to do by the 
Secretary of War, but he did not obey the order. 

About a year afterwards, having done nothing, he was made general- 
in-chief of the army, when a singular revenge for his own conduct was 
put upon him. He ordered Banks to go to Vicksburg and help Grant 
conquer it, and he ordered Grant to go to Baton Rouge and help Banks 
conquer that, and neither of them obeyed him. They evidently took 
a leaf of disobedience out of his own book. 

It may be said in excuse for Halleck's not sending his troops to 
Vicksburg that the condition of things at Washington and the need 
of reinforcements because of McClellan's defeat around Richmond 
justified Halleck in neglecting Vicksburg and in sending his troops 
to Washington. 

There are two answers to that : First, that he did not send any troops 
there, but made as his excuse for not aiding Farragut the statement 
that he had sent his troops to reinforce Buell and also Curtis. 
Those reinforcements so sent away, on then comparatively unimportant 
errands, would have been invaluable if sent to Vicksburg, which was 
nearer him than the points where they were actually sent. 

The other answer is that President Lincoln, having Vicksburg 
strongly in his mind, as we know, — for the Secretary of War had 
ordered Halleck to co-operate with Farragut, — wrote to him 
expressly not to send any troops to Washington when he had impor- 
tant use for them in his own department : — 

War Department, July 2, 1862. 
Major-General Halleck, Corinth, Miss. : 

Your several despatches of yesterday to the Secretary of War and myself 
received. I did say, and now repeat, I would be exceedingly glad for 
some reinforcements from you ; still, do not send a man if, in your 
judgment, it will endanger any point you deem important to hold, or will 
force you to give up, or weaken or delay, the Chattanooga expedition. 
Please tell me, could you make me a flying visit for consultation, without 
endangering the service in your department? 

A. Lincoln. 1 

The only man that was in a " panic " concerning Washington was 
HaUeck himself, as will be seen by his letter to McClernand which 
I quote : — 

iWar Records, Vol. XVIL, Part II., p. 63. 


Corinth, June 30, 1862. 
Major-General McClernand, Jackson : 

The defeat of McClellan near Richmond has produced another 

stampede in Washington. You will collect as rapidly as possible all the 

infantry regiments of your division, and take advantage of transportation 

by every train to transport them to Columbus and thence to Washington 

City. Gtneral Quinby will be directed to turn over to you certain 

troops of his command. The part of General Wallace's division at 

Memphis will go up the Mississippi, and the portion at Grand Junction 

will follow as soon as relieved. . . . 

H. W. Halleck, 

Major- General. 1 

Halleck' s letter shows the condition of his mind. The following 
letter from General Pope shows the condition of his opponents : — 

Camp near Booneville, June 12, 1862. 
Major-General Halleck : 

A spy whom I sent some days ago to Okolona has just returned. The 
enemy is scattered along the whole road from Columbus to Tupelo^ 
sixteen miles below Guntown. They are disorganized, mutinous, and 
starving. He reports the woods full of deserters belonging to the 
northern counties of Mississippi. Nearly the whole of the Tennessee^ 
Arkansas, and Kentucky troops have left. A large rear guard has been 
strung along perpendicular to the road for twenty miles, driving the 
stragglers and all the cattle of every description before them. The spy 
reports that the whole army is utterly demoralized, and ready to throw 
down their arms ; the Alabama troops have heard of Wood's and Negley's 
movements and are clamorous to go home. . . . 

Jno. Pope, 

Major- General. 2 

On the 1st of June, General Williams, commanding the expedi- 
tionary corps, then at Baton Rouge, had gone up the river to make a 
demonstration on Camp Moore with the Thirtieth Massachusetts, the 
Ninth Connecticut, the Seventh Vermont, the Fourth Wisconsin, 
Nims' battery and two sections of Everett's, which would make his 
force about thirty-five hundred effective men. 3 • 

'War Records, Vol. XVII., Part II., p 56. =War Records, Vol. XVII., Part II., p 5 

3 War Records, Vol. XV, p. 836. 


Upon the suggestion of the flag-officer, on the 6th of June, I had 
issued an order as follows : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, La., June 6, 1862. 

Brigadier-General Thomas Williams, 

Commanding Forces, Baton Rouge, La. : 

General: — lam directed by the major-general commanding to say 
that he will send you the remainder of Everett's battery, with its horses 
and harnesses, the Thirty-First Massachusetts and the Seventh Vermont 
Regiments, and Magee's cavalry, with transportation, ammunition, and 
forage for all. 

With this force the general will expect you to proceed to Vicksburg with 
the nag-officer, and then take the town or have it burned at all hazards. 

You will leave such force as you may judge necessary to hold Baton Rouge. 
Camp Moore is believed to be broken up substantially, and perhaps you will 
think a regiment sufficient ; Colonel McMillan's is recommended, as he has 
two pieces of cannon. The flag-officer has distinct instructions to open 
the river, and will do it, I doubt not. A large force is sent to you with 
what you have, and sufficient, as it would seem, to take any batteries and 
the supporting force they may have at Vicksburg. 

You will often be amused by reports of the enemy's strength. Witness 
your report of the numbers approaching Baton Rouge. These stories are 
exaggerated always. You will send up a regiment or two at once and cut 
off the neck of land beyond Vicksburg by means of a trench across, thus : — 

N= Vicksburg. 

making the cut about four feet deep and five feet wide. The river 
itself will do the rest for us. 

A large supply of spades and shovels has been sent for this purpose. 

Report frequently. 

By order of the Major-General Commanding : 

George C. Strong, 
A. A. £., Chief of Staff. 






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On the 4th of July General 
Williams reported : — 

Have arrived at Vicksburg. On 
June 25 commenced running and 
levelling the line of the cut-off canal, 
and on the morning of the 27th 
broke ground. Between eleven and 
twelve hundred negroes, gathered 
from the neighboring plantations 
by armed parties, are engaged on 
the work. With the hard-working 
twelve hundred negro force en- 
gaged and this prospect of a rise we 
are in good heart. The project is a 
great one, and worthy of success. 
In the next three days we expect 
to be ready for the waters of the 
Mississippi. The fleets of Flag- 
Officers Farragut and Davis are 
waiting for the result with great 
interest. Seven of Flag-Officer 
Farragut's vessels, having passed 
Vicksburg at four in the morning 
of the 28th, without silencing the 
batteries of the town, are anchored 
with Flag-Officer Davis' fleet of six 
mortar boats and four gunboats on 
the west side of Barney's Point. 

Again on the 6th of July, he 
reported as follows : — 

To-day's work of the negro force 
on the cut-off, duly organized into 
squads of twenty, with an intelligent 
non-commissioned officer or private 
to each, superintended by officers, is 
highly satisfactory. The flag-officer 
with his fleet is most sanguine and 
even enthusiastic. I regard the 
cut-off to be my best bower. 


There was no rise in the river, but on the contrary a great fall, so 
that it was reported to be impossible without three months labor to 
make a canal deep enough for the naval vessels. Therefore I left 
General Williams to co-operate with the fleet in the proposed capture 
of Vicksburg, although I had learned that it was in the department 
of Major-General Halleck. That Halleck might have no delicacy 
in calling for the co-operation of General Williams I addressed to 
him the following letter : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf 
New Orleans, La., July 26, 1862. 
Major-General Halleck, 

Commanding Department of the West : 

General: — I avail myself of the voyage of the Tennessee to communi- 
cate with you upon the subject of General Williams' brigade at Vicksburg. 

General Williams was sent up at a time when we should have had only 
local troops to meet at Vicksburg. It was not properly within my de- 
partment, but the exigencies of the public service, as it seemed to me, 
justified the movement. It is now quite different, as I am informed that 
a division at least of your army is moving upon Vicksburg. 

I have great need of General Williams' command to aid me in clearing 
out the guerrillas from this State, who are doing infinite mischief. I 
have therefore ordered his recall, as his force since the reinforcement by 
Van Dorn and Breckinridge of the enemy, is too small for operations 
alone, and a junction of Generals Grant and Curtis must give ample 
force for the reduction of the place. The disposal of the guerrilla bands 
is easy of accomplishment, but it requires many men to hold the various 
points, which if not held only bring destruction upon our friends there. 

If in anything I can aid your operations command me. I have sent a 
duplicate of this under cover to General Grant for information as well as 
to General Williams. 

I have the honor to be your obedient servant, 

Benj. F. Butler, 
Major- General Commanding , . 1 

Before writing this letter I surmised what the trouble with Halleck 
was: inconsistency, vanity, cowardice, — one or all. I had deter- 
mined that he should find no refuge in the fact that he supposed I 
would not give him aid. But knowing of the retreat of Beaure- 

i War Records, Vol. XV., p. 530. 


garcTs army on the 10th of June, and of Halleck's reply on the 23d 
that his own army was weak and disorganized, I was convinced as to 
the sort of a man I had to deal with, and I never had any more deal- 
ings with him during my stay in New Orleans. 

Meanwhile I had received some information which put the pro- 
posed movement against Mobile wholly to one side and also showed 
that Farragut's fleet might at any moment be called from his attack 
on Vicksburg. 

Before the 16th of May, a short time after my arrival in New 
Orleans, a small French vessel, the Catinet, came up and anchored at 
the head of the fleet. Her officers and sailors did not sympathize 
with the Union people of New Orleans, or with the military officers, 
or troops. Her commander did not do himself the honor of calling on 
the commanding general even on a visit of ceremony. He passed by 
the forts after Farragut passed up without Farragut seeing him. 

I learned afterwards that he was simply a French spy. The only 
communication I had with him was within thirty days after his 
arrival. He held a great jubilee on his vessel one evening, and had 
a large party there singing secession songs at the top of their voices, 
calling large crowds to the levee to hear them. I sent him a com- 
munication saying that such conduct must not be repeated on board 
his vessel, and that if it was I should send down a battery of artillery 
to prevent it. It did not recur. 

Meanwhile I was informed by the Secretary of State, verbally, 
that information had been received, through confidential channels, 
from Paris that Emperor Louis Napoleon had made substantially 
this proposition to the English government: — 

That the two governments should unite in recognizing the inde- 
pendence of the Confederacy. That a treaty should then immedi- 
ately be made with the Confederacy through Mason and Slidell. 
That Louis Napoleon, being promised aid by the rebels, should make 
an attack upon Mexico [which was afterwards made without their 
aid], for the purpose of establishing the empire of Maximilian, and 
that he should occupy New Orleans as a base of his operations, as 
Vera Cruz was not a harbor that could be safely occupied by a fleet, 
on account of its exposure to the "northers." 

More u\ detail, the last part of the scheme was this: The Emperor 
was to assemble his fleet at Martinique under the pretence of block- 


ading Mexican ports, — which would be a mere pretence, for no 
such blockade would have been of any use. At once upon a declara- 
tion of war, without any further notice to us, his fleet was to attack 
and take Forts St. Philip and Jackson, and move on to New 
Orleans. The rebels were to make an attack by land and dis- 
possess the United States of its control of Louisiana. For doing 
this, Napoleon was to have Texas re-annexed to Mexico. The mes- 
sage to me was that I must get ready to meet the attack by putting 
the forts in full repair and full armament, and that I must defend 
New Orleans at all hazards. I was further told that for obvious 
reasons it was impossible that these orders should be entered of record 
unless carried out. 

This was a somewhat startling condition of affairs . If a French 
fleet attempted to pass the forts I was to stop it by firing upon it. 
That would have been a pretty distinct act of war on a nation 
which was neutral, so far as was known to me officially. If the 
fight took place and I were successful perhaps I might be excused 
for having gone into an undertaking for which I had no proper legal 
justification. But if I were unsuccessful and it became necessary for 
our government to make an explanation, I knew enough of Seward to 
know that he would instantly deny that any such instructions were 
given me, and would claim that the whole affair was a matter of my 
rashness and desire to quarrel with the French government on 
account of the actions of the French citizens of New Orleans 
towards my army and the United States. 

I had several reasons for believing that the projected enterprise 
was fully determined upon : — 

First, the conduct of the French ship Catinet and its officers. 

Second, the fact that the communication came to me from a source 
that I could well credit. 

Third, it was so characteristic of the French Emperor. 

It was certainly best to put the forts in thorough order for defence, 
and that I proceeded to do with the utmost energy and despatch. 

I ordered Lieutenant Weitzel to examine the forts, which he had 
built, and to ascertain and report what was necessary to put them in 
such condition that no fleet could pass them, by day or by night, as 
Farragut had done. He jumped into my headquarters boat and 
went down, and returned very soon with an most admirable state- 


merit of the time it would take and what would be required to put 
the forts in such condition. 

We came to the conclusion that by taking the heavy guns which 
had been put above New Orleans to meet a fleet coming down the 
river, and such guns as were just below the city at Chalmette, 
and using them to make proper water batteries below Forts Jackson 
and St. Philip, we could, without doubt, hold the forts against the 
French fleet, especially, since if they got anywhere near past, our 
forts, they would meet Farragut's fleet, when there would probably 
be a very different performance from that with the rebels when his 
fleet passed up. Then to my utter astonishment Weitzel added: — 

"But, General, we cannot repair those forts without an order from 
Washington. I will write General Totten, the chief of engineers, 
about it." 

I said an impatient word about Totten. "What has he got to do 
with it?" . 

" No fort can be repaired, General, by the army regulations, with- 
out permission of the chief of engineers." 

"Well," I said, "I can get along without that permission, for I 
have money and men enough with which to do it, and I will send at 
once for the ordnance, if we are short." 

"Oh, but, General, I do not see how I can do it." 

I loved Weitzel then as I have ever since, but not knowing 
whether we should have time enough to get the forts ready, I said 
with great impatience : — 

" Well, if you cannot do as you are ordered I will get somebody 
else to do what I want done, but I regret it fearfully. I should be 
to blame in this, not you, and my orders would justify you. You 
may go." 

In the course of an hour, while I was reflecting upon the diffi- 
culties of my position, my chief of staff, Major Strong, came in and 
said : — 

"General, what have you been doing to poor Weitzel? " 

"Nothing," I answered, "but telling him what I want him to do 
and what he can do." 

" But, General, you have broken his heart. A braver and stronger 
man doesn' # t live; but I found him in his quarters sobbing like a 
child and so broken down that he could not tell me what you had 



done, only that you ordered him to do what he could not do. He 
says that he doesn't fear it on his own account, because the order of 
the commanding general will justify him in doing anything, and 
adds, if you were an officer of the regular army he would obey you 
without a word ; but he loves you, General, and he says it would be 
your ruin and the loss of your command to do what you want done." 

I sketched to Strong what I wanted done, but not the reasons why 
I wanted it done. I asked him to go and bring Weitzel. When 
Weitzel came in I said: — 

" Strong has been telling me what your feelings are. I know what 
they are towards me, and I feel very grateful for them, and I am 
glad that you said to him that you would do what I wanted done if 
I were a regular officer. But you also said that I did not know the 
risk I was incurring. I was both glad and sorry to hear that. I 
thought, Weitzel, you had been long enough with me to believe that 
I know more about military law and my responsibility than all the 
regular officers in the service put together. As a lawyer I ought to 
know my duty, and as a man I am willing to do it without any 
regard to consequences. Now, you and Strong go together and 
draw any order that you two believe will justify you in obeying my 
commands in this matter, and I must and will take the responsibility. 
Upon reflection, I will not take no for an answer. Now go and 
make your order." 

I should remark here perhaps that my plan of carrying out cam- 
paigns was always to give my orders first and have th:m obeyed, and 
put them in writing afterwards as a justification for the obedience. 
Papers came last, not first, with me. 

In a few minutes they returned with a very carefully drawn order 
directing Weitzel to go and do what was wanted to be done, the 
details to be arranged in writing afterwards. I signed it and had it 
countersigned by my chief of staff. 

"Now, Strong," said I, "put that on the order book, and Weitzel, 
you go and get from the quartermaster anything you want, including 
any number of men you can use, — and they may be hired if necessary, 
— and I will pay the bills. We have lost three hours here, and I 
shall expect you by diligence to make it up. Good morning." 

Colonel Jones was in command of the forts, with the Twenty- 
Sixth regiment, and he was instructed to exercise his men as much 


as possible as heavy artillerists. The forts were put in apple-pie 
order and the men were thoroughly drilled. I may add here that 
Weitzel never could settle that account with his department, although 
he charged himself with the moneys received from me and furnished 
vouchers for the expenditures. It was "irregular," and if he had 
stayed in that department as an engineer officer, 1 suppose, accord- 
ing to army regulations, his pay would have been stopped to reim- 
burse the United States for money that never came from the United 
States and that had been expended in the utmost good faith, the 
United States getting full value for it. 

I was further convinced that my information about the French 
fleet was true, because on the 16th of June the city government of 
New Orleans, which had not then been disbanded, but was soon 
after, passed the following resolution unanimously, under a suspen- 
sion of the rules : — 

Whereas, It has come to the knowledge of this council that, for the 
first time in the history of this city, a large fleet of the navy of France is 
about to visit New Orleans, of which fleet the Catinet, now in our port, is 
the pioneer ; and whereas, this council bears in grateful remembrance the 
many ties of amity and good feeling which unite the people of this city 
with those of France, to whose paternal protection New Orleans owes its 
foundation and early prosperity, and to whom it is especially grateful for 
the jealousy with which, in the cession of the State, it guaranteed all the 
rights of property, person, and religious freedom of its citizens ; therefore. 

Be it resolved, That the freedom and hospitalities of the city of New 
Orleans be tendered, through the commander of the Catinet, to the French 
naval fleet during its sojourn in our port ; and that a committee of five of 
this council be appointed, with the mayor, to make such tender and such 
other arrangements as may be necessary to give effect to the same. 

This resolution was published in the New Orleans Bee. I made 
the following answer : — 

This action is an insult, as well to the United States, as to the friendly 
and powerful nation toward whose oflicers it is directed. The offer of 
the freedom of a captured city by the captives would merit letters patent 
for its novelty, were there not doubts of its usefulness as an invention. 
The tender of its hospitalities by a government to which police duties and 
sanitary regulations only are entrusted, is simply an invitation to the 
calaboose or the hospital. The United States authorities are the only 


ones here capable of dealing with amicable or unamicable nations, and 
will see to it that such acts of courtesy or assistance are extended to any 
armed vessel of the Emperor of France as shall testify the national, 
traditional, and hereditary feelings of grateful remembrance with which 
the United States Government and people appreciate the early aid of 
France, and her many acts of friendly regard, shown upon so many 
national and fitting occasions. 

The action of the city council in this behalf must be reversed. 

But another question In this regard troubled me very much : How 
was I to fire upon the French fleet, without orders, when it came up. 
I reflected ; indeed I examined the French treaties and the law of 
nations. Finally I hit upon this expedient. The sanitary regula- 
tions of a garrisoned place are military regulations, and are such as 
the commanding general may deem proper to enforce, especially 
when martial law is declared. They are to be respected and obeyed 
by friendly nations and its officers, because they are for the safety of 
all. If disobeyed knowingly, they are to be enforced by all the 
means and power which it is necessary to use. Now the French fleet 
would come from Martinique, a port whose condition was wretched, 
and was a condemned one. It was hot weather and the yellow 
fever was there, and my orders were that every vessel, whether of 
our own nation or of any other, must remain below the forts at a 
point designated until it had been examined by the health officer, 
and a report made and written instructions received from me to allow 
it to proceed. The forts were to stop, and, if necessary, to fire upon, 
any vessel that refused to obey these quarantine regulations. There- 
fore it was made the duty of the health officer to hail every vessel 
and to give a copy of these orders to the officer who received him on 
deck. If the health officer was not received on board to examine a 
vessel, he was to drop his hospital flag into his boat as a signal, and 
if the vessel then proceeded up the river, she was, at all hazards, 
to be stopped before she reached the forts. 

I believed I could justify myself in relying upon this course of law 
in firing upon the French vessels if they attempted to pass the forts 
without obeying my quarantine regulations. And a shot in return 
would justify the whole fire of both forts. 

Early in June I learned that an attempt was to be made to or- 
ganize a revolt and insurrection in New Orleans with the intent 


to recapture the place. On the 10th of June, Beauregard's armies 
commenced to scatter. A great many conscripts were disbanded ; 
and they came to New Orleans, not as paroled soldiers but as strag- 
glers from the Confederate army. 

As portions of Beauregard's army might be sent down to make an 
attack on the city, — as they afterwards were under Breckinridge, 
— it was necessary for me to be in readiness. The only thing that 
could make such an attack successful was an organized force rising 
upon my rear in New Orleans itself. I concluded to find out who 
in the city were loyal and who disloyal, and have that made a matter 
of record. 

Again, I knew the confiscation acts were pending in Congress and 
would soon be passed. By these the property of disloyal men would 
be confiscated by the government. I reasoned that as soon as the 
confiscation commenced, every man would claim he had always been 
loyal and would prove it by his neighbors, who were as disloyal as 
himself, and so recover his property — as has since been done to the 
extent of millions. 

I determined that every man who chose to take the oath of alle- 
giance and so declare himself, should have an opportunity to do it, 
and, while forced upon no man, it should be taken by every man 
who desired to hold any office or position under the United States 
or to receive any special favor of the United States except the pro- 
tection of person, property, and liberty. 

The inhabitants of New Orleans at this time might be thus 
classed: Union men; rebels; foreigners friendly to the United 
States ; foreigners sympathizing with the Confederates ; soldiers from 
Beauregard's army, some inclined to submission and some not so 

These soldiers numbered several thousands, and it was necessary 
to have them singled out and either paroled or confined for refus- 
ing to be paroled. 

To put on record the loyal and the disloyal, I issued General Order 
No. 41. This order required that the oath of allegiance prescribed 
by law should be taken by every person who was a citizen of the 
United States Those who had resided in the country five years, 
though foueign born, should be deemed citizens if they had not 
sought protection of their government within that time. All for- 


eigners claiming any of the privileges of the American citizen, or 
protection or favor from the Government of the United States, should 
take and subscribe the oath. The books should be open, and a proper 
officer would administer the oath to any person desiring to take the 
same, the officer to witness the subscription of the name and to 
furnish to the party taking the oath a certificate thereof. 

This order immediately aroused the intense indignation of the 
consuls, and they addressed me in a labored argument to show that 
the oath offered to them would be equivalent to naturalizing them as 
citizens, and that although they were not forced to take it, yet they 
could have nothing of protection until they did take it and acknowl- 
edge themselves as citizens of the United States. They then said 
that that would be a violation of their neutrality. The argument 
further was, that the foreigners' oath required them to swear that 
they would act as spies for the United States, and that the require- 
ment that they "should not conceal any act done," required them to 
swear that they would be spies and denunciators for the United 
States. This address was signed by all the consuls, headed by the 
French consul. 

To this I answered in substance that there was nothing com- 
pulsory about the order; that I had nothing to do with naturaliza- 
tion ; that I had asked no such oath. As to their statement that 
this oath compelled every foreigner to descend to the level of a spy 
for the benefit of the United States, I answered that there was no 
just construction of language which would give any such interpreta- 
tion to the order. The oath required him who took it not to con- 
ceal any wrong that had been or was about to be done in aid of the 
enemies of the United States. I continued: — 

It has been read and translated as if it required you to reveal all such 
acts. Conceal is a verb active in our language ; concealment is an act 
done, not a thing suffered by the concealers. 

Let me thus state the difference in meaning. 

If I am passing about and see a thief picking the pocket of my 
neighbor, and I say nothing about it unless called upon by a proper 
tribunal, that is not concealment of the theft ; but if I throw my cloak 
over the thief to screen him from the police officer while he does it, I 
then " conceal" the theft. Again, if I know that my neighbor is about to 
join the rebel army, and I go about my usual business, I do not u conceal" 
the fact ; but if upon being inquired of by the proper authority as to 


where my neighbor is about to go, I say that he is going to sea, I then 
conceal his acts and intentions. 

Now, if any citizen or foreigner means to conceal rebellious or traitorous 
acts against the United States, in the sense above given, it will be much 
more for his personal comfort that he gets out of this department at once. 

Indeed, gentlemen, if any subject of a foreign state does not like our 
laws, or the administration of them, he has an immediate, effectual, and 
appropriate remedy in his own hands, alike pleasant to him and to us ; 
and that is, not to annoy his consul with complaints of those laws or the 
administration of them, or his consul wearying the authorities with verbose 
protests, but simply to go home, — stay not on the order of his going, but 
go at once. Such a person came here without our invitation ; he will be 
parted with without our regrets. 

But he must not have committed crimes against our laws, and then expect 
to be allowed to go home to escape the punishment of those crimes. 

The taking of the oath among the citizens went on. The for- 
eigners all claimed that the form of the oath was such that they 
could not take it; whereupon I changed the form of the oath 
prescribed, by General Order No. 42, as follows : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 

New Orleans, June 19, 1862. 
General Order No. 42. 

The commanding general has received information that certain of 
the foreign residents in this department, notwithstanding the explanations 
of the terms of the oath prescribed in General Order No. 41, contained in- 
his reply to the foreign consuls, have still scruples about taking that oath. 

Anxious to relieve the consciences of all who honestly entertain doubts 
upon this matter, and not to embarrass any, especially neutrals, by his 
necessary military orders, the commanding general hereby revises 
General Order No. 41, so far as to permit any foreign subject, at his election, 
to take and subscribe the following oath, instead of the oath at first 
set forth : — 

I, , do solemnly swear that I will, to the best of my 

ability, support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. 
So help me God ! 


Je, , jure solennellement autant qu'il sera en moi, de 

soutenir, de maintenir et de defendre la Constitution des Etats-Unis. 
Que Dieu me soit en aide ! 



The general is sure that no foreign subject can object to this oath, as 
it is in the very words of the oath taken by every officer of the European 
Brigade, prescribed more than a year ago in " Les reglements de la 
Legion Francaise, formee a la Nouvelle Orleans, le 26 d'Avril, 1861," 
as will be seen by the extract below, and claimed as an act of the 
strictest neutrality by the officers taking it, and, for more than a year, 
has passed by all the foreign consuls — so far as he is informed — 
without protest : — 

Serment que doivent preter tous les officiers de la Legion Francaise. 

State of Louisiana, Parish of Orleans. 

I, , do solemnly swear that I will, to the best of my 

ability, discharge the duties of of the French Legion, and 

that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the State and 
of the Confederate States. So help me God ! 

Sworn to and subscribed before me. 


Etat de la Louisiane, Paroisse d' Orleans. 

Je, , jure solennellement de remplir, autant qu'il sera en 

moi, les devoirs de , de la Legion Francaise, et je promets 

de soutenir, de maintenir, et de defendre la constitution de 1' Etat et celle 
des Etats Confederes. Que Dieu me soit en aide ! 

Assermente et signe devant moi. 

By command of 

Major-General Butler. 

R. S. Davis, Capt. and A. A. A. G. 

On the 7th of August, it was reported that the oath prescribed to 
the citizens had been taken by 11,723 persons, and foreign neutrals' 
oath by 2,499, and that 4,933 privates and 211 officers of the Con- 
federate army had given the required parole. The women generally 
refused to take the oath. 

Meanwhile, it became necessary to take another precaution, and 
that was to require all the arms in the city to be delivered up and 
put in my possession. 

To this, the French consul of course objected in a letter to Lieu- 
tenant Weitzel, who was the assistant military commandant. This 
letter was as follows : — 


French Consulate at New Orleans, 
New Orleans, August 12, 1862. 

Sir : — The new order of the day, which has been published this 
morning, and by which you require that all and whatever arms which 
may be in the possession of the people of this city, must be delivered up, 
has caused the most serious alarm among the French subjects of New 

Foreigners, sir, and particularly Frenchmen, have, notwithstanding 
the accusations brought against some of them by certain persons, sacrificed 
everything to maintain, during the actual conflict, the neutrality imposed 
upon them. 

When arms were delivered them by the municipal authorities, they 
only used them to maintain order and defend personal property ; and 
those arms have since been almost all returned. 

And it now appears, according to the tenor of your order of to-day, 
that French subjects, as well as citizens, are required to surrender their 
personal arms, which could only be used in self-defence. 

For some time past, unmistakable signs have manifested themselves 
among the servile population of the city and surrounding country, of 
their intention to break the bonds which bind them to their masters, and 
many persons apprehend an actual revolt. 

It is these signs, this prospect of finding ourselves completely unarmed, 
in the presence of a population from which the greatest excesses are 
feared, that we are above all things justly alarmed ; for the result of 
such a state of things would fall on all alike who were left without the 
means of self-defence. 

It is not denied that the protection of the United States government 
would be extended to them in such an event, but that protection could 
not be effective at all times and in all places, nor provide against those 
internal enemies, whose unrestrained language and manners are constantly 
increasing, and who are but partially kept in subjection by the conviction 
that their masters are armed. 

I submit to you, sir, these observations, with the request that you take 
them into consideration. 

Please accept, sir, the assurance of my high esteem. 

The Consul of France, 

Count Mejan. 
Lieutenant Weitzel, U. S. Engineers, 

and Assistant Military Commandant of New Orleans. 


I do not see how I can add anything to my reply to this letter. 
The evident desire to hold on to the arms impelled me to make my 
order more effectual, and therefore I must prevent the concealment 
of them by a high penalty ; and also I sent this reply : — 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, August 14, 1862. 

Sir : — Your official note to Lieutenant Weitzel has been forwarded to me. 

I see no just cause of complaint against the order requiring the arms of 
private citizens to be given up. It is the usual course pursued in cities 
similarly situated to this, even without any exterior force in the neighbor- 

You will observe that it will not do to trust to mere professions of 
neutrality. I trust most of your countrymen are in good faith neutral ; 
but it is unfortunately true that some of them are not. This causes the 
good, of necessity, to suffer for the acts of the bad. 

I take leave to call your attention to the fact, that the United States 
forces gave every immunity to Monsieur Bonnegrass, who claimed to be 
the French consul at Baton Rouge ; allowed him to keep his arms, and 
relied upon his neutrality ; but his son was taken prisoner on the battle- 
field in arms against us. 

You will also do me the favor to remember that very few of the French 
subjects here have taken the oath of neutrality, which was offered to, but 
not required of them, by my Order No. 41, although all the officers of the 
French Legion had, with your knowledge and assent, taken the oath to 
support the constitution of the Confederate States. Thus you see I have 
no guarantee for the good faith of bad men. 

I do not understand how it is that arms are altered in their effectiveness 
by being " personal property," nor do I see how arms which will serve for 
personal defence (" qui ne peuvent servir que pour leur defense person- 
nels ") cannot be as effectually used for offensive warfare. 

Of the disquiet of which you say there are signs manifesting themselves 
among the black population, from a desire to break their bonds (" certaines 
dispositions a rompre les liens qui les attachent a leurs maitres "), I have 
been a not inattentive observer, without wonder, because it would seem 
natural, when their masters had set them the example of rebellion against 
constituted authorities, that the negroes, being an imitative race, should 
do likewise. 

But surely the representative of the emperor, who does not tolerate 
slavery in France, does not desire his countrymen to be armed for the 
purpose of preventing " the negroes from breaking their bonds." 


Let me assure you that the protection of the United States against 
violence, either by negroes or white men, whether citizens or foreign, will 
continue to be as perfect as it has been since our advent here ; and far 
more so, manifesting itself at all moments and everywhere (" to us les 
instants et partout"), than any improvised citizens' organization can be. 

Whenever the inhabitants of this city will, by a public and united act, 
show both their loyalty and neutrality, I shall be glad of their aid to keep 
the peace, and indeed to restore the city to them. Till that time, however, 
I must require the arms of all the inhabitants, white and black, to be under 
my control. 

I have the honor to be your obedient servant, 

Bexj. F. Butler, 

Major- General Commanding. 
To Count Mejait, French Consul. 

This order was thoroughly effective. Attempts were made to con- 
ceal arms, but the negroes complained of them in order to get the 
rewards, and whoever concealed them were dealt with in a manner 
that showed the folly of such conduct. Well-known and well-tried 
Union men were allowed, upon application to the provost court, to 
retain their arms. There were delivered up to my officer rising six 

Further, to prevent the possibility of organization, the coming 
together of any number of people, save the police and fire brigade, 
was prohibited by a general order. My system of information 
was so perfect that there could be no considerable breach of that 
order without my knowledge, as we have seen. 

From the first, I felt perfectly safe in New Orleans, and I imme- 
diately arranged to hold the city proper with a very small force in 
view of the possible prevalence of yellow fever, which, thank heaven ! 
did not come. When my guards were posted, I had as a reserve 
force less than two hundred and fifty men. My whole army was 
regarded by the rebels as very small, yet I held the whole of West- 
ern Louisiana east of the Red River. I sent small parties of troops 
when necessary everywhere in it, and no one was ever disturbed 
except a small party under a flag of truce, which was seized. 

Governor^ Moore, on June 12, sent the following information to 
President Davis : — 


. . . The array of Butler is insignificant in numbers, and that fact 
makes our situation the more humiliating. He has possession of New Or- 
leans with troops not equalling in number an ordinary city mob. He has 
Baton Rouge, and, until Fuller's exploit, 1 used the Opelousas railroad to 
transport small parties to various places in the interior, who intimidated 
our people, and perpetrated the most appalling incendiarisms and brutality. 
Our people were demoralized, and no wonder, when our forts and strong 
places had been the scenes of the disgraceful conduct of officers who had 
charge of their defence, of which 1 have given you some details in a 
previous letter. 

Lovell, who was in command of that department, suggested, on 
the 7th of June, that Department No. 1 of Louisiana should be 
abandoned. Lee responded on the 16th of June that he deemed the 
department of too much importance to be abandoned. "He regrets 
his inability to send you reinforcements. He knows of no troops 
that can be spared at any point, unless General Beauregard can send 
you some from his command." 

I, myself, had made repeated applications for reinforcements that 
I might move upon the enemy, but the situation of the Army of the 
Potomac around Washington prevented anything being sent. 

The light draught gunboats that were required in February as 
absolutely necessary in a department where everybody went by 
water, were never sent. I wanted twelve ; I had captured two and 
bought one, the Estrella, and that was put in the hands of Farragut 
so that he could have a light draught boat for his own operations up 
the river. 

The operations of the fleet of Farragut, and of the eighteen mortar 
boats of Porter at the siege of Vicksburg, where the utter ineffi- 
ciency of Porter's invention of the use of mortar boats in military 
operations was again fully demonstrated, are matters of which I have 
hereinbefore spoken. 

As Weitzel's Union report, and as Duncan's rebel report show, 
they left Forts Jackson and St. Philip substantially as defensible as 
before the week's bombardment, and their effect before Vicksburg 
and its batteries was another demonstrative illustration. The guns 
of the fleet, it was known, would be quite harmless, because the high 
cliffs on which Vicksburg is situated rendered it substantially 

1 Violation of a flag of truce. 


impracticable to elevate the guns of the fleet so as to do more than 
reach the batteries which were placed on the cliffs and so arranged 
that their guns might be run forward and shoot down on the fleet, 
and then be drawn back and reloaded in safety. Therefore, reliance 
was placed upon the shells from the fire of the mortar fleet to dis- 
mount the guns. 

The mortar fleet, aided by all the guns of the fleet, commenced 
its fire on the 21st of June, and Farragut passed the batteries on 
the 28th of June after three hours' passage within range of the 

The entire harmlessness of the noise and confusion of that per- 
formance as a military operation, or in any other way, is fully 
demonstrated by the reports of General Smith, the immediate rebel 
commander, and of Earl Van Dorn, the department commander, 
extracts from which I give, from War Records, Series I., Vol. XV., 
pp. 8, 9. General Smith reports : — 

The roar of cannon was now continuous and deafening ; loud explosions 
shook the city to its foundations; shot and shell went hissing and tearing 
through trees and walls, scattering fragments far and wide in their terrific 
flight ; men, women, and children rushed into the streets, and, amid the 
crash of falling houses, commenced their hasty flight to the country for 
safety This continued for about an hour and a half, when the enemy 
left, the vessels that had passed the lower batteries continuing on up the 

The result of this effort on the part of the enemy was most satisfactory ; 
not a single gun was silenced, none disabled, and, to their surprise, the 
serious bombardment of the preceding seven days had thrown nothing out 
of fighting trim. It also demonstrated to our satisfaction that how large 
soever the number of guns and mortar boats, our batteries could probably 
be successfully held ; consequently that the ultimate success of our resist- 
ance hinged upon a movement by land. . . . 

General Van Dorn says : — 

It is a matter of surprise that not a single gun was dismounted during 
the whole time, and only two temporarily disabled, both being repaired in 
one night. 

The casualties on our side during the entire siege were twenty-two 
killed and wounded. Not a gun was dismounted and but two were 
temporarily disabled. 







I hope these facts will allay in some degree the great fear of our 
citizens of a war with England lest our cities should be bombarded. 
If ever done, it will be at long range. 

Attention is called to the facts stated : no house burned, but some 
penetrated. I believe that the mortar fleet experiment in warlike 
operations begun and has ended with Porter. 

To show the opinion of Admiral Farragut as to the cause of the 
surrender of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, it may not be uninterest- 
ing to append the following letter : — 

U. S. Flag Ship Hartford, 
At Anchor off New Orleans, May 1, 1862. 

Dear General : — I have received your communication sent by Cap- 
tain Conant of the Thirty-First Massachusetts Regiment, for which please 
accept my sincere thanks. 

It affords me no little gratification that our friends who were anxiously 
looking on should consider that we had " not only performed our duty," 
but, " did it brilliantly," and to the " admiration " of our associates in arms, 
who watched our movements with the feelings of military men who knew 
that on the result depended their own success in gaining a foothold on the 
enemy's soil. 

The intrepidity with which you so soon followed up our success by 
landing your forces at the Quarantine, through mud and mire and water 
for miles, and which enabled us to tighten the cords around them, has 
also added to my obligations; and I trust that you will now occupy and 
hold the city without further difficulty other than those incident to a con- 
quered city disordered by anarchy and the reign of terror which this un- 
fortunate city has passed through. 

I am, very respectfully and truly, your obedient servant, 

D. G. Farragut, 
Flag- Officer Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. 

Gen. B. F. Butler, 

Commanding Department of the Gulf. 

When the operations around Vicksburg came to an end, I again 
went to Baton Rouge. I arrived on the 26th of July with the 
Second Brigade, under the command of General Williams. This 
brigade had* suffered very severely from sickness, though not so 
greatly in the loss of troops by death. As I have said, Baton 


Rouge was very healthy for the troops, and I saw fit to leave them there 
for a few days until health was restored. Indeed, there were some 
regiments that could not bring into line more than two hundred men. 

On the 29th of July, General Breckinridge ordered a general 
movement of all his troops on Baton Rouge. His own division 
consisted of four brigades, in addition to General Clark's division 
and the large portion of General Ruggles' brigade. 

Orders were issued requiring all troops to concentrate for this 
move, stating it to be of the greatest importance. 

True, Breckinridge's division had suffered somewhat from dis- 
ease, but not in any degree as ours had suffered. The other troops 
had been quietly camped and drilled at Camp Moore and elsewhere 
for months. 

On the 30th of July he moved from Baton Rouge Avith his full 
force. In his report, which he did not render until the 30th of 
September, he makes every attempt to belittle his force, although 
he denominates the battle a victory. The " War Records " show 
that he had forty -six different organizations of some sort present. 

Van Dorn had ordered him to attack on the 5th of August at 
daybreak, supported by the ram Arkansas, which had been sent 
down there. He says he intended a surprise. 

General Williams, in command* of the department, learned when 
the attack would be made. On the 4th he called together his 
several commanding officers and selected the position of his forces 
to meet the attack. General Weitzel reported that this position 
was an admirable one. Then Williams awaited Breckinridge. 

The attack was made under cover of an almost impenetrable fog, 
but it was fully met by Williams and his command. Breckinridge 
made one mistake : He knew our centre was held by the Indiana 
regiment, and he had also learned that at dress parade on the night 
of the 4th only one hundred and twenty men of that regiment ap- 
peared for duty, and he therefore deemed that point the weakest one. 
But when the tocsin of attack sounded through our camps, the men of 
the Indiana regiment turned out nearly three times more on the line 
of fight. They seized their muskets and abandoned their hospitals, 
although some of them were so weak that they could not have 
marched a mile. The same was true in a lesser degree of the other 



We early met with a great misfortune : Williams was killed 
immediately after his address to the Twenty-First Indiana, whose 
acting colonel, Keith, had received a disabling wound. He said: 
" Indianans, your field officers are all killed ; I will lead you ; V when 
almost immediately a ball put an end to his life. 

Topographical Map of City and Battlefield of Baton Kouge, Miss. 

The men retreated at first a short distance from their camps where 
they were posted, but the enemy were finally repulsed by a steady 
and well-directed fire. Union troops were not encouraged by the 
non-appearance of the Arkansas, for they knew nothing about her. 
Our gunboats could not aid them — unless an attempt were to be 
made to turn their flanks — because they would have had to fire over 


our troops at very long range upon the enemy, which would have 
been disastrous. Suffice it to say that the enemy, after three hours 
and a half of fighting, the fog having lifted, were repulsed in full 
run, leaving their dead and wounded in piles in our hands. Colonel 
Cahill, of the Ninth Connecticut, was left in command. He cau- 
tiously sent out scouts to a very considerable distance, and found 
the houses on the route filled with the dead and wounded. A flag 
of truce came from the victorious (?) General Breckinridge, asking 
leave for a party to come in and bury the dead and to bring out 
General Clark who had been wounded. That flag of truce was 
answered that the task of burying the dead had already been sub- 
stantially accomplished, and that General Clark was in the house of 
a personal friend of his. 

The ram Arkansas, from which so much had been expected, had 
come down the river and run herself on shore about four miles and a 
half above Baton Rouge. Breckinridge says he had no information 
of this until the morning of the day of the battle. As soon as he 
learned it he sent out a party, at the head of which was one of his 
staff officers, the late Governor Wickliffe of Kentucky. Wickliffe 
was in my office later with a flag of truce, and he told me that he 
went on board the Arkansas and that her crew set her on fire with 
her guns all shotted, and that she exploded on her way down river. 
This was stated to me in the presence of Commodore William Porter 
(a brother of Admiral Porter), who had just before stated to me that 
that morning he went up with the iron-clad Essex, from which 
nobody had heard anything during the night, and that he met the